No one wants to go through a divorce, and deciding who receives custody of the children can be the most difficult part of the whole process. Going through your divorce alone can make this process even more challenging, but working with a Towson, MD child custody lawyer can significantly ease your stress and help ensure your best interests and the best interests of your children are protected.
As experienced family law professionals, we wanted to take some time today to talk about the child custody process. Below, we have outlined some of Maryland’s child custody laws and how the process of awarding child custody works. You can continue reading to learn more, or you can reach out to us directly to set up a consultation with one of our Towson child custody attorneys. We are happy to discuss the specifics of your case and answer any questions you may have.
The Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody
There’s a lot of legal jargon that you’re going to hear over the course of your child custody proceedings, but two terms you need to know are legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions related to the child or children. This includes decisions related to education, religion, medical treatments, and any other major life decisions.
Physical custody refers to the child’s actual physical presence. This establishes which parent the child will be residing with. A parent who is granted physical custody is known as a “custodial parent.” Non-custodial parents are typically awarded visitation rights, though there are certain instances in which visitation may be limited or prohibited. When physical custody is shared between both parents, both are considered joint custodial parents. However, one parent will likely have more time with the child. This parent will be the “custodial parent” in the eyes of the court.
How Does the Court Decide on Child Custody?
Before any Towson, MD court can decide on a child custody arrangement, there are several factors the judge will consider.
Here are just some of those factors:
- The Willingness of the Parents to Share Custody: This simply means that the judge will consider whether or not both parents desire to seek full custody, or if a joint or sole custody arrangement would be more appropriate.
- The Health of the Parents: The Towson, MD judge will consider whether or not both parents are fit to take care of a child, both physically and psychologically.
- The Preferences of the Child (If Appropriate): If the court finds that the child is of an age and capacity to form a rational judgment, the court may consider the preference of the child when deciding matters of custody.
- The Geographic Location of Each Parent’s Home: Assuming you and your spouse will no longer be sharing a dwelling, the court may take the geographic location of where each parent is living into account, the thought here being that they don’t want to uproot the child.
Note that mothers are not automatically granted primary custody. In fact, the court typically takes the point of view that it is in the best interests of the child to continue a relationship with both parents whenever possible and safe to do so.
Many factors influence the court’s decision on child custody. In addition to those listed above, other elements may be considered in your case. We strongly recommend that you work with a knowledgeable child custody lawyer, like ours at Albers & Associates, for help with your case.
Modifying a Child Custody Arrangement
There are many instances in which an initial child custody arrangement may need to be modified. The court understands this and allows for modifications to an existing child custody agreement. However, to request a modification to a child custody or visitation arrangement, you must prove that a “significant material change” has occurred.
Examples of significant material changes include:
- An out-of-state move
- Inability to comply with the existing custody order
- Interference with court-ordered visitation
- Misuse of child custody funds
- A dangerous home situation
- Abuse, assault, or other forms of violence, including domestic violence
- Significant changes in the child’s behavior and/or needs
As in all child custody and visitation agreements, the court will always rule in favor of the “best interests of the child.” However, this means what the court believes to be in the best interests of your child, not you, the parent. In many cases, you may disagree with the court’s ruling. An attorney can advocate for you and present evidence on your behalf.
Get Help From an Experienced Towson, MD Child Custody Attorney
Working with a family law attorney puts you in the best possible position when it comes to protecting your rights and the best interests of your child during custody proceedings. Whether you are navigating a divorce, seeking visitation, or wish to make changes to an existing child custody order, the Towson child custody lawyers at Albers & Associates can help.
Here at Albers & Associates, we provide child custody services to Towson and other surrounding areas throughout Maryland. Let us help you with your custody case. Our team of experienced and compassionate attorneys is standing by, so give us a call today.