Ensure Your Child’s Safety And Happiness
Perhaps there is no other issue in family law more important than who has custody of the children. A good relationship is fundamental to your children. Even if that relationship is being threatened, you have more control than you think.
Fight for your child’s right to a stable, loving home and a strong network of support with the legal champions you’ll find at The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC.
Do you have a child custody matter? Reach out by email or phone at 443-971-8884 to our dedicated team of family law attorneys. We’re here to help.
What Is “Child Custody,” Legally Speaking, In Maryland?
When you’re talking about underage children, custody is the legal right for an adult to care for and raise a child until they reach the age of majority at 18 years old.
Usually, the person with custody over a child is that child’s biological parent, but relatives such as grandparents can also petition for custody.
What Types Of Child Custody Can I Get In Maryland?
Technically, there are two types of child custody in Maryland:
- Legal custody: The power to make important, long-term decisions about a child’s health, education, religious upbringing and other issues.
- Physical custody: The right to spend time with your child and make day-to-day decisions about his or her welfare.
Depending on your circumstances, you might request:
- Sole custody: Only one parent has legal and physical custody;
- Split custody: In families with two or more children, each parent has sole custody of a different child;
- Joint legal custody: A child lives with one parent, but the parents make important decisions about his or her welfare together; or
- Shared physical custody: A child splits his or her time between the two parents’ residences. Share physical custody may not be a 50/50 split.
While some parents can quickly agree to a custody arrangement, it is rarely that simple.
And, due to the importance of parent-child relationships, custody disputes can quickly become combative.The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, helps parents resolve these disputes – both in and out of court.
How Do You Get Custody Of A Child In Maryland?
If you want custody of your child, you must follow a specific process. Depending on your circumstances, this might involve:
- Establishing legal paternity;
- Negotiating a parenting plan out of court;
- Filing a complaint about custody;
- Attending a co-parenting education program;
- Participating in court-ordered mediation;
- Undergoing a custody evaluation by a neutral, third party;
- Requesting a Baltimore Circuit Court hearing; and
- Attending the custody hearing and presenting evidence in support of your claim.
In Maryland, courts make child custody decisions based on the child’s best interests. This involves a series of factors, including:
- Who is your child’s primary caregiver?
- Are you mentally and physically capable of caring for your child?
- Is there evidence of domestic violence or child abuse?
- Can you maintain a civil relationship with your ex?
- Can you meet your child’s physical and emotional needs?
- Does your (age-appropriate) child have an opinion about the custody arrangement?
For this reason, you should always consult with a child custody lawyer before you file or respond to a complaint about custody. If you lash out angrily at your ex, you might lose your custody or visitation rights.
What If My Ex Violates Our Child Custody Order?
If a parent violates a custody order, there are serious ramifications. If your ex refuses to return your child, you should contact them directly and demand your child.
If this is unsuccessful, you should immediately contact law enforcement and your custody lawyer. Your ex might face criminal charges, including:
- Child abuse; and
- Contempt of court.
Your ex may also face civil penalties for breaking a court order – which is what a custody agreement is – including a reduction or termination of his or her custody rights.
How Do You Change A Child Custody Arrangement?
Once a Maryland court issues a custody order, it retains jurisdiction over the case until the child is an adult. You can always ask the court to modify your existing custody order if your circumstances change significantly.
For example, you might modify your child custody arrangement if:
- A parent moves away from Maryland and the current plan is impractical;
- A parent changes jobs or work schedules and cannot care for a child;
- An older child requests more or less time with a parent (for good reason);
- A parent’s disability seriously limits their ability to care for a child;
- A parent refuses to comply with the existing order; or
- There is evidence of child abuse.
Modifying a child custody order involves a detailed analysis of your changed circumstances and your child’s best interests. Maryland judges value a child’s stability, and you will have to present persuasive evidence supporting your claim.
Get A Free Family Law Consultation
We’re hard-working, family law attorneys. Our firm has helped Marylanders for more than 30 years and we want to help you move forward. Custody is a big deal and we get that. Call our office in Linthicum Heights at 443-971-8884 to schedule a free consultation. You can also schedule a meeting by emailing us here.