What Do Judges Look for in Maryland Custody Cases?
For a long time, there has been a general belief that Maryland is a “mother state,” implying that it gives more preference to mothers in custody cases. However, the doctrine was abolished in 1974 because it allowed mothers to be awarded custody simply because they were women. The law is clear that both parents, at least initially, have equal footing in the custody process.
If you feel that your fathers’ rights have been violated in the determination of a custody case, you should consult skilled fathers’ rights attorneys in Montgomery County. Generally, the court should look out for the child’s best interests when deciding custody and will therefore look for the following:
The Primary Caregiver
Courts will look at the parent who acts as the primary caregiver for the child. If you, as the father, are with them almost exclusively and the other parents have been absent from the child’s life, you may have a better chance at getting custody than the other parent. However, if you have been absent because the other parent restricts access, the court may consider this.
The judge will also consider how fit each parent is for the role of the primary caregiver. That includes checking their past criminal record, mental stability, time availability, and financial stability. A fathers’ child custody attorney in Montgomery County can help you put together proof showing that you’re the better-suited parent for custody based on these factors.
Parent’s Character and Reputation
In child custody cases, judges are less likely to award custody to the parent with poor character and reputation as they may adversely affect the child’s character. A parent with a history of domestic violence and instability in employment may not be the best fit.
If you have witnesses that may attest to your good character and social standing, the judge may consider this in determining custody. Your child custody rights lawyer in Montgomery County can guide you in proving this in court.
A Child Custody Agreement and Parenting Plan
Judges give preference to pre-planned custody arrangements between the parents. They will evaluate the plan and determine whether each party has fulfilled their part of the agreement or failed to honor it. If there’s a dispute and you and your ex-spouse can’t amicably agree, the court will make the final decision, considering all these other factors.
Prior Abandonment or Surrender of Custody
The past significantly comes into play in custody vases. If you or the other parent previously abandoned or surrendered custody, that will be a significant factor in determining whether the judge will allow you to participate in the new custody plan.
Depending on the child’s age and maturity, the court may grant custody depending on the child’s wishes. A minor who is 16 years and older can petition the court on their own for a change in the custody order. Younger children are allowed to share their opinion upon request.
Your Montgomery County fathers’ child custody attorney will advise against pushing your child to support you in court over the other parent. Doing so will only make the court look unfavorably upon you, and you could lose your chance of being granted child custody.
The Length of the Separation
How long a child has been separated from their parent is also a factor to consider in determining custody. A parent who has spent so many years away from the child may not be favored in the custody case. That’s because the court might determine that there won’t be an undue burden to the child if they see the parent very little.
If you have been separated from your child for valid reasons, such as being denied visitation or access, your fathers’ lawyer can help you prove this in court. They can fight to defend you and show cause why you should be allowed to mend the relationship with your child first before the final custody determination. That might eventually work in your favor.
As you can see, courts consider many factors before making a ruling on child custody. The child’s well-being is paramount, and the parents with the child’s best interest at heart almost always win when all factors are considered. So, work with an experienced fathers’ rights lawyer in Montgomery County to fight for your rights over your child.
How Can a Mother Lose Custody of the Child to the father?
Any time a parent, whether a father or mother, breaks the law, they risk losing legal or physical custody of their child.
Such situations include the following:
- Abuse and neglect: A mother automatically loses their child custody rights in Maryland if the court deems them unfit for the child’s care.
- Abduction: Leaving the state with the children without telling their father with a court order in place is considered abduction and can see the mother lose her custody rights.
- Poor behavior during divorce proceedings: Being bitter and petty during the divorce proceedings could cause a parent to lose custody. For example, preventing child visitation on unfounded grounds if the other parent doesn’t pose a danger to the child could affect the custody outcome.
If you can prove any of these factors in court against your child’s mother, the custody outcome may be more favorable towards you. Doing so requires the input of an experienced Montgomery County men’s child custody lawyer.
An Experienced Fathers’ Rights Attorney Helping You Fight for Custody
In Maryland, fathers have the same rights toward their children as mothers. In child custody issues, the court considers various factors before making the final ruling based on what is best for the child. If you feel that your rights as a father have been violated, a fathers’ child custody lawyer in Maryland can defend you.
Our firm has passionate and skilled fathers’ rights attorneys focused on fighting gender bias in American divorce cases. We can help you through family law cases affecting your rights and your child. Contact us to schedule a FREE case assessment and for a winning strategy.