Baltimore Child Custody Lawyer
If you have children, it’s no surprise that they are the most important part of your life, and if you are getting divorced, it should come as no surprise if the issue of child custody is the most hard-fought and challenging aspect of your divorce. Baltimore child custody lawyer Hasson D. Barnes can help you get through your divorce or child custody dispute by keeping the best interests of your children front and center, and using his years of experience and skill as a Baltimore divorce lawyer to make sure your needs and your children’s needs are met now and into the future.
Different Kinds of Child Custody in Maryland
Custody of the children in a Baltimore divorce can be granted solely to one parent or shared jointly. Even when shared jointly, one parent is generally considered to be the parent with primary custody. Shared custody in Maryland means that each parent has physical custody of the child (as determined by overnight stays) at least 35% of the time.
There are two types of custody which must be considered when making custody decisions: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the actual physical possession of the child, such as which parent the child lives with. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to a parent’s right (and responsibility) to make decisions regarding various aspects of the child’s upbringing, including religion, medical care, schooling, extracurricular activities, and more. Like physical custody, legal custody can be given solely to one parent or shared. The court has wide discretion to decide how legal custody is shared. For instance, the judge could give both parents a say in most areas but carve out certain decisionmaking to one parent or the other, or give one parent the final word on some or all decisions.
Best Interest of the Child
Custody decisions are supposed to be made in the best interest of the child, but there are a lot of different factors the courts look at in deciding that question. Having strong representation in a custody matter is essential when providing the judge with information which will have a strong impact on the custody determination. Some of the questions the court may ask include:
- Which parent is the child’s primary care giver?
- Are both parents fit as parents? What is the character and reputation of each parent?
- Is there any evidence of spousal or child abuse?
- Is one parent better able to help the child maintain family relationships?
- What are the financial resources of each parent?
- Where does each parent live in relation to the other parent, the child’s school and friends, and extended family members?
- What is the relationship between parent and child?
- How should the child’s age and sex influence the custody decision?
- What is the preference of the child regarding custody?
- Have the parents created a custody agreement between them?
Even after decided by the divorce court, a child custody arrangement may later need to be changed. This can occur if one parent needs to relocate far away or as changes in the child’s development shift the child’s needs from one parent to the other. Before custody can be changed, however, the parties must return to court, and the party seeking a modification must be able to prove a substantial change in circumstances that would justify modifying the custody order. Also, the parent must be able to prove that the change would be in the best interests of the child or children involved. Our Baltimore family law attorney can help you present a powerful case when you are seeking or resisting a change in the custody order.
Client-Centered Child Custody Assistance from a Skilled and Knowledgeable Baltimore Child Custody Lawyer
For help with a child custody dispute in a Baltimore divorce or other family law matter, contact the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes at 443-423-0548.