Bethesda Child Custody Lawyers
Divorce is usually traumatic for both spouses, but it can be most impactful on the children. When children are involved, minimizing the effects of the breakup on them is paramount. At Shah & Kishore, we utilize our expertise in Maryland child custody law and mediation to offer our clients solutions in their children’s best interests.
During this stressful time, Shah & Kishore will work with you to determine the best child custody solution that reflects your desires and is in the best interests of your children. To learn how our Bethesda child custody lawyers can help with your situation, call us at (301) 315-0001 to set up a complimentary consultation.
What Types Of Child Custody Are There In Maryland?
In Maryland, there is physical and legal custody. Judges have the discretion to order sole legal or physical custody, joint legal or physical custody, or a combination.
Legal custody means the right and obligation to make critical decisions in a child’s life. Typical matters include religious upbringing, education, and healthcare.
Joint legal custody means both parties have an equal say in legal custody decisions. If parents disagree on a significant legal custody matter, our Bethesda child custody lawyers at Shah & Kishore can file a motion to ask the court to rule on the matter.
The parent with physical custody provides the child’s primary home and makes daily decisions needed when the child is there. If the family court awards one parent physical custody, the judge will create a visitation or parenting schedule for the parent who does not have custody.
Joint physical custody is shared custody. If parents have shared physical custody, the child is with one parent for part of the year and with the other parent for the other part. Shared physical custody can be 50/50, but not necessarily.
How Custody And Visitation Is Decided In Maryland
In a child custody case, the family court judge must consider the case’s unique circumstances and facts. In that way, they decide the custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests.
The same legal standard is used for visitation decisions; the court has to decide what is in the child’s best interest. When deciding the visitation schedule, a critical consideration is whether the non-custodial parent has ever engaged in domestic violence or child abuse. If so, the judge may order a supervisor during the parent’s visitation. Or overnight stays may be prohibited.
What Does ‘Best Interests Of The Child’ Mean?
The best interests of the child depend on the situation and circumstances. The family court has the discretion to decide which facts are most important in each case. Some of the facts that the judge may consider for determining the child’s best interests are:
- The reputation and character of each parent
- The fitness of each parent
- The ability to maintain family relationships
- The sex, age, and health of the child
- Material opportunities that each parent offers the child
- The preference of the child, if they are old and mature enough to have an informed opinion
In addition to the factors above, the court can consider the minor’s relationship with each party. Also relevant is the relationship the parents have with each other. Divorced parents must communicate well enough to decide for the child’s best interests. Factors that may be considered to determine if joint custody is possible are:
- How well the parents can communicate with each other and make shared decisions
- Whether the parties are willing to share child custody
- The relationship the child has with each parent
- Whether joint custody will affect the child’s school and social life
- How demanding each parent’s job is
- Each parent’s financial status
Modifying Maryland Child Custody Orders
The family court has the power to modify a custody order. But note that courts prefer stability for children, so the judge will not alter a current custody or visitation order unless you can demonstrate it is in the child’s best interest. Also, you have to show that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the previous order.
In Maryland, a child who is at least 16 can also ask for a change of custody. The child may file a motion to change the custody agreement without a guardian. However, the child must show that the change is in his or her best interest.
Gender In Maryland Custody Decisions
Many fathers wonder if mothers have an advantage in child custody proceedings in Maryland. The law does not allow courts to consider a parent’s gender as a factor when making child custody decisions.
However, it must be noted that courts sometimes award custody more often to mothers than fathers. There may be many reasons for this, but a likely factor is that some Maryland families may have a history of gender-based division of labor at home. In the past, the mother was frequently the major caregiver, and the father was the primary financial provider. The court could still favor the mother based not on gender but because of this traditional relationship.
Still, the mother or father can be awarded primary custody based on the case circumstances. Speak to our Bethesda child custody lawyers at Shah & Kishore if you are concerned about your spouse having an advantage in child custody matters.
Contact Our Bethesda Child Custody Lawyers Today
If you are in a child custody dispute or anticipate one, contact a qualified Maryland attorney today. Shah & Kishore can assist with your child custody case and ensure the outcome is in your child’s and/or children’s best interests.
Our law firm is located in Rockville, but we are pleased to serve family law clients in Germantown, Gaithersburg, Potomac, Silver Spring, Montgomery Village, Olney, and Burtonsville. Please contact our Bethesda child custody lawyers today to set up a free consultation, or call (301) 315-0001.