Maryland Third Party Custody Attorney

Every parent has a right to control the upbringing of their children, which includes controlling who has access to their children. The law assumes that a parent knows what is right for their child and can make decisions in the child’s best interest.

Unless a parent is unable to take care of their child, they have the right to make decisions about the care, custody, and control of their child. Children can benefit from having a support system that includes their parents as well as a wide circle of third parties.

However, when relationships between parents and third parties strain, any relationship with the child is often affected. If you are a third party trying to get custody and visitation rights for a child, you should speak to a third-party custody lawyer who can advise you about your rights and the legal process to do so. Our skilled family law attorneys are committed to securing the best possible outcome for your third-party custody arrangement.

Contact our Maryland family law attorney at Shah & Kishore for more information.

How Can Shah & Kishore Help Your Case?

At Shah & Kishore, our skilled family law partner, Rahul Kishore, is committed to securing your best possible third-party custody arrangement.  Our experienced and aggressive team serves clients in Montgomery County, Maryland.

  • Shah & Kishore is a firm of experienced and aggressive family lawyers serving clients in Montgomery County, Maryland.
  • Our success rate has been extremely good. Our clients are extremely happy with our firm’s ability to resolve cases without going to litigation.
  • Our partner, attorney Rahul Kishore, is trained as a mediator and is able to handle high conflict custody disputes.
  • While we are an an experienced and aggressive family law litigator, we pursue an amicable resolution first. We firmly believe that keeping the family structure as intact as possible after a separation is best for everyone.

If you need the support and assistance of a compassionate team of family law attorney in Montgomery County, Maryland, call Shah & Kishore at (301) 315-0001. We offer a free consultation and we get back to you as soon as possible. We also offer a military discount for those who are in the military.

How a Maryland Third-Party Custody Attorney Can Help

At Shah & Kishore, we do much more than answer your legal questions.  We believe in keeping you informed and advised about how Maryland’s custody laws affect your case at all stages of the custody process.  

We strive to meet your legal goals and expectations in a way that maintains, builds, and strengthens familial relationships.  Whenever possible, we prefer to negotiate agreed visitation and custody arrangements for the adults and children who are party to them.

Contact Shah & Kishore now for:

  • A thorough review of your situation;
  • An honest assessment of your legal options;
  • Representation in a custody negotiation, mediation, or trial litigation;
  • Complete and correct preparation and filing of court documents and orders; and
  • Much, much more.

Attorney Kishore can meet with you at a convenient time.  Take your first third-party custody steps today by calling our Montgomery County office.

A Parent’s Constitutional Right Vs. The Child’s Best Interest

Whenever the court makes a third-party custody decision, it balances a parent’s constitutional right to decide how their child should be reared in the child’s best interest.  A natural parent’s decisions are presumed to be in the best interest of their child.  

Therefore it is a third-party’s burden to prove the natural parent is unfit or that exceptional circumstances warrant the need for third-party custody or visitation.  Then the court will consider what type of third-party custody plan would be in the child’s best interest.

Who Is a Third Party In a Child Custody Case?

Before any non-parent pursues custody or visitation with a child, they must determine their role in the child’s life.  A non-parent may be a de facto parent or third party.

A de facto parent is like a parent in that their relationship with the child mirrors that of a parent.  A de facto parent is one who:

  • The legal parent(s), when there are two, consented to and fostered the relationship between the de facto parent and the child;
  • Has have lived with the child;
  • Has performed parental functions for the child to a significant degree; and
  • Has forged a parent-child bond with the child over a substantial time. 

A third-party is anyone other than a parent or de facto parent.  This includes grandparents, relatives, Godparents, and family friends unless they can prove they are a de facto parent.

Stepparents are also considered third-parties unless they have legally adopted the child or can demonstrate they qualify as a de facto parent.

How Does the Court Decide Custody Rights for Third Parties?

Deciding whether to grant custody or visitation rights to a third party involves a three-part exercise.

  • The court starts by making a determination about the parent’s fitness as a parent.
  • If the court finds that the parent is a “fit parent” then the next step is to consider the existence of exceptional circumstances in favor of the third party.
  • Finally, the court decides what is in the best interest of the child.

Determining Parental Fitness

When determining a natural parent’s fitness, the court considers whether:

  • The parent has neglected the child by manifesting such indifference to the child’s welfare that it reflects a lack of intent or an inability to discharge their parental duties;
  • The parent has abandoned the child;
  • There is evidence that the parent inflicted or allowed another person to inflict physical or mental injury on the child, including but not limited to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  • The parent suffers from an emotional or mental illness that has a detrimental impact on the parent’s ability to care for and provide for the child;
  • The parent otherwise demonstrates a renunciation of their duties to care for and provide for the child; or
  • The parent has engaged in behavior or conduct detrimental to the child’s welfare.

This list is not exhaustive; instead, the court uses these factors to guide its decisions.

Are There Exceptional Circumstances?

If a natural parent is found to be fit, a third-party must prove the existence of exceptional circumstances to gain custody rights.

The court reviews the following to determine if exceptional circumstances exist:

  • The length of time the child has been away from the biological parent;
  • The age of the child when care was assumed by the third party;
  • The possible emotional effect on the child of a change of custody;
  • The time which elapsed before the parent sought to reclaim the child;
  • The nature and strength of the ties between the child and the third party custodian;
  • The intensity and genuineness of the parent’s desire to have the child; and
  • The stability and certainty as to the child’s future in the custody of the parent.

The court may use any other relevant evidence in making a third-party custody ruling. Generally, without a verdict of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances, the wishes of a natural parent are honored in child custody and visitation matters.

Grandparent Visitation in Maryland

In Maryland, the courts allow grandparents to file for visitation with their grandchildren. However, their request is considered only when the natural parent is unfit, there are exceptional circumstances, or the biological parent wholly denied grandparent visitation.

Maryland gives no preference to grandparents in third-party custody cases. However, the court will consider a close relationship with grandparents in a third-party custody decision.

How Do I Legally Request Third Party Custody and Visitation?

A third party seeking custody or visitation rights must petition the court and demonstrate that either the parents of the child are unfit or that there are exceptional circumstances that warrant granting the third party those rights.

This is not an easy task to accomplish. An experienced Maryland child custody attorney who knows the law, can best advise you on what you will need to persuade the courts in your circumstances. 

An experienced third-party custody lawyer knows what types of evidence will be persuasive and can help you put together a strong case backed by compelling evidence. 

Contact an Experienced Maryland Third-Party Custody Attorney Today

If you have questions about your third-party custody and visitation rights or need to file for a third-party custody arrangement, call Shah & Kishore at (301) 315-0001 to speak to our Maryland third-party custody lawyer. The attorneys at Shah & Kishore will work to secure the best possible results for your third-party custody case. You can also contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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