Montgomery County Child Custody Attorney
When couples separate, their children are sometimes forced to take sides and choose one parent over the other. Children deserve to be raised with the love and affection of both parents, whether the parents are married or not.
Unfortunately, when a relationship breaks down, restricting access to minor children in the relationship can be used as punishment against one parent. Except under certain extreme circumstances, every parent has a right to participate in the upbringing of their child, and to have physical access to their child.
If you are having difficulty reaching a child custody agreement with your child’s other parent, our Maryland family law attorney at Shah & Kishore can help you protect your parenting rights.
How Shah & Kishore Can Support You
- The attorneys at Shah & Kishore are experienced and aggressive in family law litigation in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our guiding philosophy is Deliver Peace of Mind.
- We are not afraid of litigation, but in family law issues, our preferred approach is Amicable First, Tough Second.
- We explore all amicable means of dispute resolution, including mediation and collaborative law, before turning to litigation.
- Our utmost priority is to find the best solution to keep your case financially feasible and less stressful.
Let us help you navigate the difficult child custody process. If you need a Montgomery County, Maryland child custody lawyer, call us today at (301) 315-0001 to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Child Custody: Defining Terms
In Maryland, child custody involves physical and legal custody of the child.
Physical custody refers to which parent the child is physically residing with and involves decisions relating to the child’s everyday needs. Legal custody refers to which parent has responsibility over major decisions relating to the child’s upbringing.
Physical custody and legal custody can either be sole (reserved to one parent), or joint (shared between both parents).
Sole legal custody is when one parent holds the exclusive right to make major decisions for the child.
Joint legal custody is when the child’s parents have equal influence in making major decisions related to the child’s upbringing.
Shared physical custody is when the child physically resides with both parents, spending at least 35 percent of the time with each parent. In shared physical custody, both parents are sharing “parenting time” and making short-term decisions regarding their child.
Emergency custody – if a spouse believes that there is a credible and immediate threat of violence or harm to them and/or their child, they may request an order for emergency relief. The procedures vary from court to court, but in most cases, hearings take place very quickly. Emergency custody orders are temporary and the case must continue until there is a final order.
Child custody cases cover the legal custody, physical custody, and visitation with respect to the child.
A court may be required to make a determination regarding the custody of a child in certain circumstances including divorce, separation, abuse, termination of parental rights, and protection from domestic violence.
A child custody order may be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstance of the case. Even after a child custody order is made, there can be modifications to the order if certain facts change.
In all cases, the court makes a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Maryland?
When the courts are required to determine custody of a child, many factors are taken into consideration. Every case is different and will be determined based on its specific facts.
The ultimate determiner is always the best interest of the child.
Some of the factors that a court may take into consideration are:
- The fitness of the parents; This includes the physical and psychological capabilities of the patients, including
- Who is the primary caregiver? Who takes care of the child, feeds them, gets them ready for school, etc.?
- The character and reputation of the parents;
- The demands of each parent’s employment;
- The age, health, and sex of the child;
- The child’s preference. Children as young as five or six may be heard, though rare and the child’s maturity will guide the decision. If a judge will not hear the child’s preference, the court decision may be overturned.
- Any potential disruption of the child’s social and school life
- Any opportunities affecting the child’s future; and
- Any prior abandonment or surrender of custody
- The child’s established relationship with each parent.
The court will also respect any agreement between the parents provided it is made in the best interest of the child.
Custody Involving Unmarried Parents
If the parents of a child are unmarried, Maryland courts deem the child to be the child of the mother. A father must establish paternity to claim rights to the child – including the rights to custody and visitation. A father can establish paternity by seeking a court determination of paternity, acknowledging paternity in writing or verbally to others, or marrying the child’s birth mother and acknowledging that he is the father. If paternity is established, the courts do not give preference to the mother or the father based solely on gender.
What Happens If We Cannot Agree on Custody and Visitation?
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on custody issues, your attorney can help through mediation. As family law attorneys, we understand how important child custody and visitation issues are and do everything in our power to reach the best outcome for both our clients and the best interests of their children. In some cases, the court may order mediation, however, this will most likely prolong the entire legal process as it halts all other action until the medication is complete.
How Can a Montgomery County Child Custody Lawyer Help?
An experienced Maryland child custody lawyer not only knows the law, but is also aware of how to persuade the courts in your best interest. Child custody determinations are based on facts and evidence, not on sympathy, culture, or societal norms.
Your child custody attorney has access to the resources and professionals who can provide expert evidence to convince the court that your position is in the best interest of the child. The experienced attorneys at Shah & Kishore can also guide you through a Montgomery County child support case as it relates to the outcome of the child custody court order.
Contact an Experienced Montgomery County Child Custody Lawyer Today
If you need a Montgomery County child custody lawyer to help you file a custody order or modify an existing custody order, Shah & Kishore can help you. Contact us online or call (301) 315-0001 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Maryland family law attorneys.