Potomac Child Custody Lawyers
Divorce is typically stressful and traumatic for both parties, but when there are children involved, it can be even more challenging. Maryland law requires that the children’s best interests be reflected in any child custody decision. Our Potomac child custody lawyers will work with you to ensure that happens in your case.
Shah & Kishore will review your divorce situation to decide the legal path to ensure the ideal child custody solution. To find out how our Potomac child custody lawyers can assist you, call today at (301) 315-0001 to set up a free consultation.
What Is Meant By Best Interests Of The Child In Maryland?
Maryland courts make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. They look at many factors; no factor is more important than the others. These factors include:
- Primary caregiver: Who cares most for the child? Who gets them up, takes them to school, feeds and bathes them, arranges daycare, and shops for them? Also, who does the child rely on when hurt or sick?
- Parental fitness: What are the physical and psychological capacities of each parent? The family court can also consider any evidence of abuse a parent commits against the other parent or child.
- Ability to maintain family relationships: Who is most capable of helping the child maintain their family relationships? For instance, is one parent more likely to let the child talk to their ex-mother-in-law? Which parent is less likely to criticize the other parent in front of the child?
- Preference of the child: The court may consider the child’s preference if they are old and mature enough to make an informed decision. For example, a child who is 10 or 11 typically has a parental preference that the court will consider. Also, the family court has the power to appoint a lawyer for the child in a case that is being contested.
- Material opportunities: Which parent has the greatest material resources and opportunities?
- Length of separation: How long has each parent been separated from the child?
- Disability: A parent’s disability is only relevant if the disability influences the best interests of the child
- Previous surrender of custody or abandonment: Did one parent ever walk out and leave the other party with the responsibility of the home and child?
- Parental residences: Where does each parent live and how close is each home to extended family, schools, and social contacts?
Maryland Joint Custody Agreements
It is common in Potomac child custody matters for parents to share physical and legal custody. For instance, there might be one home for the child, and each parent lives there alternately. The most critical factor for a joint custody agreement to be approved is the ability of the parties to work together and make decisions for the child’s best interests. If the parents constantly quarrel about child-rearing matters, the court may need to consider other custody options.
Also, the family court will want to ensure that the parents are sincere in wanting joint custody. This ensures that joint custody is not traded for concessions in other areas. Further, will granting joint custody affect federal or state assistance programs? Talk to our Potomac child custody attorney about how any benefits you receive could be affected by a joint custody agreement.
Unmarried Parents And Child Custody In Maryland
If parents are not married, the child is presumed to be the mother’s. For the father to claim his parental rights – such as visitation and child custody – he must prove paternity. This can be admitted or proven in court. Ways to establish paternity in Maryland are:
- Paternity determination made by a court
- Written acknowledgment of paternity
- Informing others that the child is his
- Marrying the mother and acknowledging orally or in writing that the child is his
Shah & Kishore’s Potomac child custody attorneys can advise you on the best way to prove paternity, depending on your case circumstances. We understand that it is vital for your child’s development to have a nurturing relationship with their father.
Mediation In Potomac Child Custody Disputes
If you and the other party have difficulty reaching a child custody agreement, Shah & Kishore can recommend a mediator, and we also can provide mediation services if you hire us in that capacity. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps couples arrive at a fair and just agreement without involving the court. Mediation sessions are confidential and non-binding, and you can limit the mediator’s role to only custody. Or, you can ask the mediator to address other contentious divorce issues, such as property division.
However, mediation is inappropriate in cases of domestic or child abuse. You also should have an attorney to advise you during the mediation process. Also, the mediator is not necessarily an attorney, so they may not be aware of relevant legal issues. So, make sure you are advised by a Potomac child custody attorney.
Modifying Custody In Maryland
If a parent wants to modify the custody order, it is their burden to prove why the court should make the change. The court views stability to be in the child’s best interests, so it must see convincing evidence to alter the status quo.
For example, suppose you believe that your home is a better environment for your child than the other parent’s. You must show the court that there has been a change in circumstances and that the child’s best interests are served by making a change.
In Maryland, if the child is at least 16, they can ask for a change in custody on their own. But it is the minor’s burden to show that a custody change is in their best interests.
Contact Our Potomac Child Custody Lawyers Now
If you are dealing with a child custody dispute or anticipate one, it is critical to retain qualified legal counsel immediately. Our dedicated child custody attorneys at Shah & Kishore will sit down with you and get a firm understanding of your child custody case. Then, we will determine the best legal path forward and strive to ensure your child custody goals are achieved. Your children’s best interests will always be at the top of our minds.
Our child custody law firm is located in Rockville and serves the communities of Bethesda, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Burtonsville, and Olney. Contact our Potomac child custody lawyers promptly to set up a free consultation, or call (301) 315-0001.