Many difficulties arise during divorces and separations with regards to child custody – specifically when the divorce/separation is a contested one. In order to ensure the best outcome, best chances are you need to prepare for the potential challenges that may arise along the way.
Establishing Custodial Eligibility in Maryland:
In certain cases in Maryland, it is a necessity for the individual seeking custody to establish their eligibility to request custody. For natural parents, this burden generally falls on unmarried fathers, or individuals who are yet to legally establish their title. To establish paternity as a father (especially if not recorded on the child’s birth certificate), then it is necessary to either 1) undergo a genetic paternity test as ordered by the court in an accredited state hospital or 2) establish paternity through a written declaration – agreeing to all rights, responsibilities and burdens that entail the role. Natural parents aside, custody may also be rewarded to adoptive guardians and step-parents. In such cases, documents approving of the legality of their state, along with their demonstrated qualifications and commitment for the role will be required. The final category involves distant relatives such as aunts and grandparents, whom can only request custody once a child’s legal guardians are proven unfit (or deceased).
Consistent Documentation and Provision of Proof in Maryland:
During legal cases, proper documentation of events, along with appropriate proof, is required to consolidate any claims made throughout the trial. All that matters throughout the case is the integrity of the information you offer the court; once breached, it becomes much easier to lose the case. Any visitations, payments, and calls showing your commitment must be recorded, whether through a written journal or a timeline. When trying to prove that your spouse’s apartment is unsafe, it is necessary to request an in-home evaluation, hyperbole and dishonesty will – more often than not – work against you.
‘Child’s Best Interest’ – Maryland:
The Court generally determines custody by identifying the factors that work for ‘the child’s best interest.’ These may include the child’s personal preference, each parent’s fitness (physical and psychological), each parent’s willingness to compromise and facilitate a relationship between the child and the other spouse, both parent’s individual reputation and character, each individual’s financial status, any felonies or misdemeanor committed by either parties, or a myriad of other factors. Understanding these factors and stressing the individual’s commitment towards offering them is integral to building a winning case.
While Maryland legislation has long proscribed any presumptive custody made solely based on a parent’s gender (Tender Years Doctrine), Courts will generally be more lenient towards primary caregivers. The primary caregiver is defined as the individual who directly cares for the child, whether through feeding, dressing, commuting, and providing first-aid. This tends to heavily influence visitation rights and temporary custody (referred to as pendente lite). If not the primary caregiver, a parent may struggle to establish superior commitment and care, especially if they have a precedent of abandoning their child.
Don’t Get the Child Involved:
Coaching a child into what to say or how to behave in court and out of court during the period of the trial in hopes of manipulating the outcome is strictly prohibited. This may also include any indirect influence such as informing your child regarding how the case is moving. This will not only undermine the parent’s integrity but will confuse and intimidate the child.
If you need a Maryland child custody lawyer to help you with your child custody case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child custody attorneys can help you.