The main directive of any family court is to do what is in the best interests of a child. This applies to all matters of custody and access with minor children. A prime example of these matters is a divorce where the court must rule on the question of child custody.
Laws in Bethesda and throughout the state give both parents an equal opportunity to demonstrate that the child is best served by remaining in their custody. In fact, it is best if the parties themselves create a parenting plan that gives both parents joint physical and legal custody of a child. Even so, it is vital to be prepared to present evidence as to why you are the better option to care for the needs of your child.
A Bethesda child custody lawyer may be able to help you make this case in court. An experienced family law attorney can help explain the processes used by courts to make decisions as well as present evidence in court to strengthen your claim for child custody.
The Two Types of Child Custody in Bethesda
Child custody encompasses two types of custody under state law. What most people consider the primary mode of child custody is physical custody. This is the level of custody that determines where the child lives. Usually, the court will create a custody plan that splits time between the two parents, but each case is different depending on the facts. This may result in a child living with both parties at different periods of time during the week.
The other type of custody involves the right to make major decisions concerning how that child is raised. Important questions such as where the child goes to school, what activities the child participates in, medical issues, and what religion the child follows are all issues concerning legal custody. Much like physical custody, a court may issue a joint legal custody order, give these rights entirely to one parent, or do a variation where one party has legal custody of medical care and the other has legal custody over education.
There is no preference for a mother over a father in these days. Instead, the judge will consider the fitness of each parent as a whole, as well as factors to determine the best interest of the child(ren)to answer questions concerning child custody. An attorney in Bethesda could help present an argument to maximize your custody rights over your children.
When Will a Court Consider Questions Concerning Child Custody?
State laws assume that both parents share the rights and responsibilities involved with raising a child. If the two parents live together, there is nothing for the court to decide as the law states that both parents share these rights due to the simple fact that the child lives with them. Any breakdown of a marriage or a cohabitation arrangement will necessitate a child custody hearing to determine that child’s future.
State law expressly gives authority to a Bethesda family court to settle matters concerning child custody. According to Md. Code, Family Law §5-203(d)(1), courts can rule on these matters in the best interest of the child. As a result, the wishes of the parents are not the determining factor in these cases if the judge is forced to decide.
However, there is a way for parents to retain control over how a court will craft a child custody order. If the parents are able to agree as to how they will co-parent their child(ren), they may enter into a settlement agreement that outlines their wishes.
A court will review this agreement, and as long as the court agrees that it will serve the best interests of the child, will accept this agreement as the official parenting plan. A lawyer in Bethesda could help craft these agreements to save significant time and heartbreak in child custody hearings.
How a Bethesda Child Custody Attorney Can Help
All parents have the right to remain in the lives of their children. This includes the right to have physical contact with that child as well as to have a say in important life decisions. These concepts of physical and legal custody form the core of child custody laws.
However, courts are obligated to rule in the best interests of a child. If a judge believes that it is in the best interest of the child to live with the other parent, they may grant the majority of parenting time to that other person. Even worse, if the court believes that you are a threat to the wellbeing of that child, the court may grant sole custody to the other parent. What the court will not do is substitute its morals and values for that of the parent. Both parents have a right to raise their children with their own personal morals and values, unless those values would be against the child’s best interests.
A Bethesda child custody lawyer could help persuade a court that your child is best served by you retaining or gaining custody of the child. This can include presenting evidence of many factors that you will have to present to the court to prove that it is in the child’s best interest to live with you the majority of the time. Call today to discuss your case.