HOW TO WIN A CHILD CUSTODY CASE IN MARYLAND
Founder/Owner THE FIRM, LLC
Maryland child custody cases can be simple if legal custody, physical custody, visitation/access, and child support are resolved without attorneys or a trial.
However, if you and the other parent (grandparent or other third party) cannot resolve the matter, filing a child custody court may be the final step in resolving all child related issues.
Based on the number of single parent households or children who begin living with both parents and at some point the parents separate, there is a high probability of a custody and visitation/access arrangement prior to age 18 for many children.
1. BE A REASONABLE CLIENT
a. Family law courts are based on relief that is equitable.
Therefore, the Judge will be looking for a resolution that is fair to everyone. Requesting an outcome in a child custody case that is totally unreasonable may not work in your favor. This may come into play for legal custody requests or schedule requests that are not in the best interest of the child(ren).
Legal custody is a decision making tool and there are two kinds: joint legal custody and sole legal custody.
Sole legal custody (basically) allows one parent to make the all major life decisions concerning the child(ren); such as schooling, healthcare, religion, etc.
Joint legal custody means both parents should take an active role in making the major life decisions on behalf of the child(ren).
A request for one type of legal custody over the other should be guided by what is in the best interest of the child(ren) and should be based on reasonableness and fairness. A physical custody/time sharing proposal in a child custody case should also be reasonable.
There are times when the Judge will not create his/her own schedule but will choose one of the schedule(s) proposed by the parties in the child custody case. In this case, the Judge is sure to select the option that is the most reasonable.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR ATTORNEY IS REASONABLE
a. Please make sure you are being counseled and guided by an attorney who has your best interest at heart.
A compromise in a child custody case may be best—even when you don’t get everything you are seeking—instead of trying the child custody case and letting the Judge make the ultimate decision.
The Judge will only see you and (possibly) the child(ren) for a limited time in a limited environment, and based on this limited time and limited contact with you and the other party, a decision will be made that will have an tremendous affect on your life and the life of your child(ren).
When possible, work out these decisions with the other parent/party instead of going to trial.
a. The final factor I will cover but the one that may be the most important in a divorce case is CREDIBILITY.
The Judge sits down and although he/she may be familiar with the lawyer(s), the Judge doesn’t know the parties or the minor child(ren).
If a client is perceived as untrustworthy, he/she will have a difficult time being successful in a child custody case. There are certain decisions that are less flexible than others i.e. child support may be awarded based on the strict application of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.
However, visitation/access schedules and legal custody are guided more on fairness and what is in the best interest of the child(ren). Credible testimony, good body language, appropriate dress, and a pleasant demeanor goes a long way in determining whether you will be successful in your child custody case.
Your attorney should help you prepare for trial and/or deposition.
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