Whenever two parents who share children together get divorced or separated, the custody of their children is the tribunal’s top priority during their family court case. Unlike other elements of family law cases, though, child custody cases are the most difficult for the court to determine.

However, before going into court, you should advocate for your own rights and best interests, and you should not go into any kind of custody dispute without guidance from a family law attorney. Whether you are seeking a favorable child-sharing arrangement or concerned about a change or violation thereof, a Howard County child custody lawyer can help.

How Do Local Courts Make Decisions about Child Custody?

Every custody decision made in our area must consider the best interests of the child. This means that local courts must make custody arrangements based on what would be in the child’s best interests – not their parents’ or anybody else’s.

The court must consider many factors to make this kind of decision, ranging from concerns like the child’s health status to each parent’s financial capacity to care for the child. The court has great discretion to evaluate pre-existing family relationships between the child and their parents as well as each parent’s general character. Children will never be asked their preference by the court, but their voices may be heard if a best interest attorney is ordered to represent them.

Depending on these and other considerations, a judge may elect to grant joint legal and shared physical custody to both parents, or order that one parent have primary physical custody. A local attorney can work with either parent to prove to a judge that their preferred custody arrangement is in their child’s best interests.

Modifications and Violations of Parenting Schedules

Once child custody orders are issued by the court, they remain in effect indefinitely unless modified by a later court order. In order to successfully petition to have a custody order modified, a parent must prove that a material change of circumstances exists which warrants a modification of the current court order in their child’s best interests. A child can also seek a modification of their own custody under Maryland Family Law §9-103 if they are 16 years of age or older, which the judge may or may not grant.

Anyone who violates the terms of a custody order may be subject to possible civil contempt proceedings. For example, a parent failing to return their child in accordance with their custody order could result in litigation to enforce the current court order. A child custody lawyer in Howard County can offer more insight about how these proceedings work.

Learn More by Speaking with a Howard County Child Custody Attorney

The decision about who gets custody of your children can be an emotionally intense one even under the most amicable circumstances. If you and your child’s other parent disagree about what would be in your child’s best interests, you could have a lengthy legal battle ahead of you.

Let a skilled Howard County child custody lawyer help ensure that your child’s best interests are protected in and out of the courtroom. To discuss how a seasoned family attorney can help you, call today to set up an initial consultation.