Filing for custody in Maryland can be a very tedious process, especially within the paradigm of divorce and separation. Things become even more complicated if either adoptive parents or third parties such as grandfathers and aunts are involved. In order to streamline the process, it is very helpful to be aware of all the necessary documents, procedures, and expenses which you may encounter 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 Legislation requires that the child must be a resident of the state, or to have resided in the state for the past six months. County courts tend to accept interchangeable cases and cooperate well with one another.
From the court in Maryland, request a petition for child custody. This is generally given alongside the divorce papers; however, it can still be requested. The clerk will then inform you of any documents you will require as a part of the custody case, including bank statements and summons. Note that the court may also assign a mediator to help resolve issues and talk you through the process. Mediators tend to charge lower prices if assigned by the court ($100-$200 per hour) and can greatly cut back any future incurred costs.
The judge in Maryland will also request and prescribe certain evaluations and tests to be made including custodial evaluations, an in-living assessment for both residences of either party, physical and psychological assessments for the child and either or both parents, along with other professional services such as therapy, which may aid in the divorce process.
Submitting the petition in Maryland will approximately cost $300, which if unaffordable may be waived. A small fee of $30 may also be charged for the sheriff’s services.
Once all documents have been submitted and the other party responded to the summons, the court will arrange a hearing. Temporary custody may either be agreed upon by both parties or if contested, will be designated 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 security of the ‘Child’s Best Interest’ in court.
Throughout the course of the trial, you are expected to present evidence corroborating any claims made, and defending any accusations through documents, detailed accounts, or testimony. As a result, it is recommended that you record any suspicious behaviors exhibited by the second party which may be useful in court.
Once you establish relative competency, it is necessary to show the willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the second party in the case you win full custody. By doing so, the court may feel greater leniency in offering you a more generous custodial status. This must be demonstrated throughout and after the trial through well-documented visitations, regular parental involvement, and a willingness to keep the parent-child contact healthy.
Note that even after the custody case is settled, it is possible to petition more generous custodial rights if there have been changes that altered what the court may define as ‘the Better Parent’ (ex. improved financial health, prolonged parental involvement, remarriage of the second party, etc..).
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.