Visitation refers to the parenting time that a non-custodial parent spends with their children. While this person is normally the children’s other parent, third parties like grandparents and step-parents may also petition a court for visitation with the help of a skilled child custody attorney. If you would like to seek parenting time with a child, contact a Maryland visitation lawyer to get help navigating this process.

Understanding Custody in Maryland

The law in Maryland assumes that both natural parents of a child should share custody and parenting responsibilities for their children. A court will award parents physical custody and legal custody, or whichever one is at issue. Parents can also share custody jointly or one parent may have sole custody.

Parents with shared physical custody spend at least 128 overnight visits with their children during the course of the year. If a parent has fewer than 128 overnight visits with their children, then that person does not have shared physical custody and instead will have visitation time.

If parents can agree on the terms of their custody arrangement and their visitation schedule, they can enter into an agreed stipulation that defines the terms of their agreement and can submit it to the court for approval. Many agreements can be created during the course of a mediation with the professional guidance of a seasoned Maryland visitation attorney.

If parents cannot agree on a custody or visitation schedule, a judge may intervene and create a parenting schedule for them during a hearing. The court may examine all of the factors and circumstances which might affect child custody, such as each person’s fitness and character as a parent, the current access schedule between the parties; the age and health of the parties and the children, the location of the parent’s residences to each other, the economic circumstances of the parents, the willingness of the parents to share custody, and many other non-exclusive factors.

Deciding Visitation Terms

In general, a natural parent has a right to custody and access with their kids. Unless a court finds that custody, access or visitation with a child would be harmful due to a history of child abuse or neglect, the court will usually rule in a way that provides quality time with each parent.

In most cases, parents are free to create a access and visitation schedules that works for them and their children. Parents can agree to a structured visitation schedule that lists each day that a parent has visitation, or they can agree to a more flexible schedule. In some unique situations, a person might be required to have supervised visitation with their children.

Parents creating a visitation and access schedule can agree on almost any terms they want, so long as their arrangement is in the best interest of their children. Some common terms that parents decide include holiday schedules, pickup and drop off times and locations, and providing notice to each other before vacations or international travel.

The parent who has less custodial time with the children is usually responsible for paying child support to the other parent. A person’s access, custody, and visitation time with their children is not dependent on whether they are caught up on these payments. If a parent’s child support is late, the custodial parent cannot use the delinquent payments as a reason to prohibit the non-custodial parent from having visitation with their children.

Visitation Rights for Non-Parents

Maryland is unique in that it allows third parties who are not a child’s parents to seek visitation rights, under certain circumstances. Maryland Code, Family Law §9-102 allows a court to consider reasonable visitation for grandparents, step-parents, and other individuals who may have helped raise a child.

Whether a court will grant visitation rights to a third party depends heavily on the consent of the child’s custodial parent. When a parent objects to a third party’s visitation with their children, or if the court finds that visitation would not be in a child’s best interests, then the court may not approve the petition for visitation. Working with a diligent visitation lawyer in Maryland would substantially improve a claimant’s chances for success in receiving an approval.

Learn More from a Maryland Visitation Attorney Today

There are few things more important in life than spending time with your children. If you are a parent or third party who wants more visitation with a child that they love, an experienced family law attorney can help you petition for more parenting time.

Get the help you need to create a strong and lasting bond with your children by contacting a Maryland visitation lawyer today and scheduling an appointment.