Filing for custody in Maryland can be a very tedious process, especially within the paradigm of divorce and separation. Things get even more complicated if adoptive parents or third parties such as grandparents and aunts are involved. To simplify the process, it is very useful to know all the necessary documents, procedures and expenses that you can find in the initial process.
When starting the divorce process, it is important to verify the eligibility of your case with the nearest Circuit Court. Maryland law requires that the child must be a resident of the state or have resided in the state for the past six months. County courts tend to accept interchangeable cases and cooperate well with each other.
From the Maryland court, file a petition for child custody . This is usually given along with the divorce papers; however, it can still be requested. The clerk will then tell you about any documents you need as part of the custody case, including bank statements and summonses. Keep in mind that the court may also appoint a mediator to help resolve issues and talk with you about the process. Mediators tend to charge lower prices if appointed by the court ($100-$200 per hour) and can greatly reduce any future costs incurred.
The judge in Maryland will also request and prescribe certain evaluations and tests to be performed, including custody evaluations, a living evaluation for both residences of either party, physical and psychological evaluations for the child and one or both parents, along with other professional services such as therapy, which can help in the divorce process.
Filing the petition in Maryland will cost approximately $300, which can be waived if you cannot afford it. A small fee of $30 may also be charged for bailiff services.
Once all the documents have been sent and the other party has responded to the summons, the court will set up a hearing. Temporary custody can be agreed upon by both parties or if contested, will be appointed by the Court. Each party is responsible for seeking their own legal representation, which can be costly depending on the fierceness of the case. The child will be assigned a guardian ad litem to ensure the safety of the “Best Interest of the Child” in court.
Throughout the course of the trial, you will be expected to present evidence to substantiate any claim made and to defend any accusation through documents, detailed accounts, or testimony. As a result, it is recommended that you record any suspicious behavior exhibited by the second party that may be useful in court.
Once you establish relative jurisdiction, you need to show a willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the second party in the event that you win full custody . By doing so, the court may feel more lenient in offering you a more generous custody status. This must be demonstrated during and after the trial through well-documented visits, regular parent involvement, and a willingness to maintain healthy parent-child contact.
Keep in mind that even after the custody case is resolved, it is possible to apply for more generous custody rights if there have been changes that altered what the court may define as “Better Parent” (for example, better financial health, long-term involvement of parents, new marriage The second party, etc.
If you need a Maryland child custody attorney to help you with your Maryland child custody case, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child custody attorneys can help. C