Child Custody Lawyer Rockville, MD 

Could you explain about the concept of child custody?

In Maryland, the courts break up the concept of custody into two parts. The first part is legal custody. This involves the right to make important decisions in a child’s life – things like education, religion, medical decisions, and so on. The second part is physical custody, or where a child spends time.

How is custody determined?

Custody cases normally take about 9 months to work their way through the court system. If a couple is divorcing the court will usually decide custody issues first. There may be a special hearing to determine visitation during the pendency of the divorce case. If the parents are not married, they will still be offered a hearing to determine temporary visitation. Sometimes the court will assign a social worker to evaluate the parents and their fitness.

Who makes the determination?

Sometimes during a court case the parties are able to reach a common ground and agree on a custody and visitation schedule. If not, a judge will decide.

What factors does a judge use in deciding custody and visitation issues?

The judges use many factors in making custody determinations. Some of them are mandated by the case law, but others are just common sense. For example, who has been the primary caregiver of the children over the years? Where do the parent’s live? Where do the children go to school? Are there concerns about drugs? When do the parents get off of work so they can pick up the children? The list of factors can be endless.

What are some common arrangements?

Having the non-custodial parent take the children on alternating weekends is the most common. Sometimes the court will award a weekday dinner, too. If the court wants to give extra time sometimes the judge will have the non-custodial parent keep the children on Sunday night and take them to school Monday morning. For younger children, if the parents want to have a more equal distribution of the time 2-2-5-5 is popular. This involves…..

How often can custody be reviewed?

There is no set time. It can be reviewed when there is a substantial change of circumstances. What constitutes a change of circumstances is not always clear. Certainly a move out of the area by one of the parents is a change of circumstance. Sometimes the refusal of one parent to abide by court orders is considered a change of circumstance. Usually, the mere passage of time is not considered a change of circumstance.