Maryland Family Lawyers For Grandparents’ Rights
You want the best for your grandchild – even if it means requesting custody or visitation from your own son or daughter.
JC Law has successfully navigating grandparents’ rights cases before, making sure Maryland families offer secure and loving homes for our children.
How Can I Gain Custody Of My Grandchild In Maryland?
In Maryland, child custody has two elements:
- Legal custody: The right to make important decisions about a child’s health and welfare, and
- Physical custody: The day-to-day care of a child.
It is relatively difficult for grandparents to obtain custody of any type over their grandchildren in Maryland.
Unless you are already a “de facto parent” that has taken on an active parenting role and bonded with the child, you must convince the court that there are exceptional circumstances that merit visitation or your grandchild’s parents are unfit.
If you believe you have a solid case to request custody of your grandchild, then the first step is filing a custody petition and serving it upon your grandchild’s parent.
Once a petition is filed, the court will schedule a custody hearing. At that time, you will present evidence demonstrating your claims and how your request for custody is in the child’s best interest.
Because grandparent custody cases involve strict legal standards, it’s in your best interest to retain an experienced grandparents’ rights lawyer who has dealt with grandparents’ rights cases before. A lawyer will give you the best possible chance of getting custody of your grandchildren.
What “Exceptional Circumstances” Do Maryland Judges Consider When Granting Grandparents’ Rights?
Maryland courts weigh a series of factors when they decide whether there are exceptional circumstances in a custody claim to grant grandparents’ rights.
These factors include:
- The amount of time the child has been away from his or her parents
- The age of the child when the grandparent assumed care
- The emotional impact of a custody change
- How long it took the parent to step back into a parenting role
- The nature and strength of your grandparent-grandchild bond
- Whether the parents have a sincere desire to regain custody
- The safety and stability of the parents’ home
Your family lawyer experienced in negotiating grandparents’ rights can help you evaluate the circumstances surrounding your claim and develop evidence that supports your custody petition.
If you’re not sure whether your custody case merits an “exceptional circumstance” as their grandparent, then you can always have a free conversation with a JC Law family lawyer with experience handling grandparents’ rights cases. They will briefly assess your situation and offer a fair evaluation of your case before you waste any money.
Will Maryland Courts Grant Grandparents Custody If The Child’s Parents Are Unfit?
A Maryland court will not judge a parent as “unfit” simply because the grandparent disagrees with the parents’ decisions.
For example, if the parent decides to raise the child in a different religion or send them to a school that you, as their grandparent, disagree with, a court will not evaluate that parent as legally unfit to raise your grandchild.
Instead, the courts evaluate a series of factors. A parent might be unfit if there is evidence of:
- Child neglect
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- A parent’s inability to care for your grandchild, due to mental illness
- Other harmful behavior that impacts the child’s welfare
Unfit parenting claims can damage your relationships with both your grandchild’s parents and the child. Before you file a custody petition alleging unfit parenting, consult with a family lawyer who’s handled grandparent’s rights cases before.
They will help you understand the implications of filing an unfit parenting claim and assess the strength of your case.
Can I Get Visitation Rights In Maryland As My Child’s Grandparent?
Yes – Maryland law protects grandparents’ rights to request visits with their grandchild through visitation court orders.
That said, while grandparents can request reasonable visitation rights, it’s typically an uphill battle.
Despite Maryland law protecting grandparent visitation rights, the courts have limited its scope.
If the parents have agreed to a visitation schedule, the courts typically will assume that this schedule is in the child’s best interests.
Conversely, to successfully petition for visitation against the parents’ wishes, grandparents typically again must show that their grandchild’s parents are unfit or there are exceptional circumstances meriting visitation.
Most grandparents cannot successfully petition for visitation or custody on their own. Instead, they rely on the experience and guidance of a Maryland family law attorney who has successfully won grandparents’ rights cases for their clients.
Do I Get Special Adoption Rights In Maryland As The Child’s Grandparent?
Under certain circumstances, a grandparent can become a child’s legal guardian or adoptive parent through the Maryland court system.
- A guardian has the legal authority to make important decisions for a child, including educational and health care decisions. However, this responsibility can end under certain circumstances.
- Adoption permanently transfers all parental rights to the grandparent.
You might petition a Maryland court for guardianship or adoption if either:
- The department of social services is involved, due to concerns about your grandchild’s safety or welfare.
- Your grandchild’s parents lost their parental rights or are deceased.
Because there are strict procedural and legal requirements involved, you should strongly consider hiring a grandparents’ rights lawyer to help you with the Maryland adoption or guardianship process. Even a single mistake can result in serious delays or the denial or your request.
“Although it is difficult for grandparents to win custody even if one of the biological parents puts up a challenge, we ultimately won full legal and physical custody thanks to Zack [Grove]’s help.”
Find out what it’s like to work with us.