Any separation of two people who have a legal relationship is a difficult matter. Any divorce or other legal separation must arrange for the future of both parties. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in determining the custody of children.
State laws assume that both parents have equal rights to raise their children. This includes both the rights of physical custody and the ability to make major decisions concerning that child’s welfare and future. Still, the plain fact is that both parents do not necessarily have an equal ability to provide the best life for that child. Because of this, courts are often forced to make difficult decisions concerning child custody that a parent may not perceive as fair.
A Rockville child custody lawyer could fight to convince a court that a child would be best served in your custody. This includes making arguments during divorces, custody hearings, temporary hearings regarding custody, other legal separations, and even modifying existing court orders when appropriate. An attorney could help to provide both you and your child(ren) with the brightest possible future.
When is a Child Custody Hearing Necessary?
A child custody hearing is necessary anytime there is a dispute between two parents/parties with regard to access to and custody of minor children. The most common example of this is in a divorce and/or separation and where two unmarried parties share a minor child. If you are seeking a divorce in the state of Maryland and you have minor children, custody should be addressed by you and/or the courts.
Indeed, Md. Code, Family Law §5-203(d)(1) states that a court in a divorce case has the express authority to award custody to either parent. Furthermore, these parents start on an equal footing; mothers no longer have maternal preference.
While a divorce may certainly be the most common source for a child custody hearing, in reality, any separation of parents could give rise to these matters. If two unwed parents decide to no longer live together, they must make arrangements for the care and custody of that child or children. The same can be said for parents who have never lived together. A court must keep the best interests of a child in mind during any custody battle. An attorney in Rockville could help to promote your interests and the best interest of the child(ren) no matter the origin of the child custody hearing.
Common Issues in Child Custody Cases
The central purpose in any child custody case is for the court to make a determination as to what living arrangement will work best for the child. This includes deciding where that child will live, as well as granting the ability to make major decisions concerning that child’s welfare and future.
In legal terms, this is known as physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child lives. A court may grant sole physical custody, meaning that the child spends a majority of their time living with one parent while the other only has visitation.
Alternatively, and far more common, the court may create a joint or shared physical custody plan. These plans split living time between the two parents. Similar sole and joint plans apply to court decisions concerning legal custody: the right to decide how that child lives and who makes the decisions for that child or children.
The court will examine the fitness of both parents in making these decisions. Judicial criteria for determinations of child custody awards include, but are not limited to the following:
- Any history of violence or abuse
- Character and reputation of the parties
- Desire of the parents and any agreements between them
- Potentiality of keeping natural family relations
- Preference of the child (depending on age and maturity)
- Age, health and sex of the child
A skilled lawyer who practices in the Rockville area could help a party present their case in court to help convince a judge that they are best suited to have child custody.
Reach Out to a Rockville Child Custody Attorney Today
As much as a child custody case may seem like a judgment on the ability of parents, in truth, the court must make a decision that is in the best interests of the child(ren) and the child(ren) alone. This involves examining the fitness of both parents and awarding both physical custody and the right to make decisions for that child. This can result in parenting plans that may not fit your goals.
A Rockville child custody lawyer may be able to help you to fight in court for a parenting plant that fits your needs and that is best for your child(ren). This includes pursuing parental rights during any divorce or separation as well as filing motions to modify existing orders if changes in circumstances demand a reexamination. The outcome of a child custody hearing could affect the future of both you and your child(ren) for years to come. Reach out to discuss your options with a local lawyer today.