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The Basics of Resolving Baltimore Child Custody Issues

Baltimore child custody disputes can take a while to resolve. If the parents of a minor child do not agree on the terms of custody, they may have to hire Baltimore child custody lawyers and resolve the issue in court.

This article will explain the basics of resolving Baltimore child custody issues.

Mediation and Baltimore Child Custody Disputes

Most likely, you and your Baltimore child custody attorney will first attempt to resolve any child custody disputes out of court. This is a usually a much more affordable and faster option than having to go through the formal legal process.

To avoid a lengthy trial, parties may negotiate in mediation. Mediation is a meeting between the two parents overseen by an impartial mediator. The purpose of mediation is for the two parties to come to agreements regarding child custody, child visitation and child support.

If such agreements are made, they can be formalized and provided to the court. The judge will then enter an order based on the agreed-upon request.

Baltimore Child Custody Factors

If you do take your Baltimore child custody case to trial, a judge will make a determination of custody based on a number of factors. It is important to note that judges in Baltimore do not automatically favor the mother or the father.

Factors that affect Baltimore child custody disputes include:

  • Who is the child's primary care giver? In other words, who primarily feeds the child, bathes the child and provides the child care?
  • How are the parents' physical and mental abilities?
  • Has a previous custody order been issued in the past?
  • What is the child's opinion? This is usually not asked of young children, such as those under 10.
  • How are the finances of each parent?
  • Which parent lives closer to the child's school and social circle? Does one parent live far from the other?
  • If one of the parents has been separated from the child, how long has this separation lasted?
  • Does one parent have a history of abandonment or desertion?

Baltimore Child Custody Court

Whether you are seeking child custody in Belair-Edison, Gardenville, Mill Hill or another area of Baltimore, you will need to file a custody complaint with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City's Family Division or with the Baltimore County Circuit Court (depending on whether you live in the city of Baltimore or in Baltimore County).

If you are also seeking child support or visitation rights, you will need to submit additional forms. Your Baltimore child custody lawyer can assist you with filling out and filing all necessary documents.

Potential Baltimore Child Custody Dispute Outcomes

There are multiple types of child custody that a judge may award one or both parents.

Legal custody is what gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding the child's needs, including medical and educational decisions.

Physical custody, on the other hand, is what gives a parent the right to live with the child. In most instances, one parent may have physical custody while the other has visitation rights.

Either legal or physical custody can be awarded solely to one parent or to both. When only one parent has one of these types of custody, it is called sole custody. If parents share one of these types of custody, it is called joint custody.

Baltimore courts will rarely award a parent sole legal custody. Sole physical custody is more common. Often when a parent has sole physical custody, the other parent is provided visitation rights.

After You Resolve Baltimore Child Custody Disputes

Once a judge enters a child custody order, both parents are legally bound by it. The only way to alter this arrangement is for one parent to show there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that it is in the child's best interest to make the proposed change.

If the court denies you custody, you may attempt to request a copy of the written opinion. This will allow you to see why the judge denied your custody request.

After custody is awarded, the parent with primary custody of the child may request child support. Child support is financial assistance paid by one parent to the other for the purposes of supporting the child.