The laws of Maryland assume that the natural parents are children’s natural custodians, and the law is not written to favor the mother or father. The custody laws outlined in this blog post are essential to understand if you are an unmarried parent. Please speak to our Maryland child custody lawyers if you have questions about child custody and other divorce-related questions.
How Courts Decide Custody and Visitation In Maryland
In every child custody case, the family court must consider the circumstances and facts of every case and decide the custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. The same standard is in place for visitation; the court has to decide what is in the child’s best interests. A key consideration when deciding a visitation schedule is whether the parent that does not have custody ever committed domestic violence or child abuse.
What Happens If Parents Are Unmarried In Maryland?
The child is presumed to be the mother’s when the parents are unmarried. If you are the father and want to claim rights to your child, such as the right to child custody or visitation, you must show paternity, which can be admitted or shown in court. As the father, you can establish your paternity in these ways:
- A court stating that you are the father.
- Paternity is acknowledged in writing.
- Telling other people that the child is yours.
- By getting married to the mother and acknowledging that you are the father, either orally or in writing.
Once you have established paternity, neither the father nor mother is given preference according to gender. If you disagree about child custody with the mother, the first step should be mediation. The mediator specializes in helping parents reach a child custody and visitation agreement. However, mediation will not work in a case where there is an issue with sexual or physical abuse.
Can Custody Be Modified In Maryland?
If a parent wants to change a custody order, it is the burden of the parent to prove to the court why it needs to be changed. The court will generally be reluctant to change a custody order, the idea being that stability is best for children unless you can show something in the home environment affects the child’s wellbeing. This is not easy to prove; you must show that your home is better than the custodial parent’s home and not merely as good.
To prove this, you have to show there was a significant change in circumstances and that it is in the child’s best interests to make the proposed change. The custody agreement will not be changed if the judge thinks the two homes are equal. Also, courts may listen to the custody wishes of older children, but courts will usually not consider the wishes of young children. Children at least 16 can petition the family court and ask for a custody change.
Contact Our Maryland Child Custody Lawyers Today
If you are in a child custody dispute, you need the help of an experienced attorney. So, please contact our Maryland child custody lawyers at The Law Office of Sandra Guzman-Salvado today at (301) 340-1911 for legal assistance.