Custody

Columbia Child Custody Attorney

Representing Clients in Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Surrounding Counties

Facing child custody decisions in Columbia, Maryland, can be a stressful and emotionally charged experience. The legal landscape surrounding child custody in Maryland can be complex, and having a trusted advisor is crucial.

Our experienced child custody lawyers from Family Legal Advocacy Group in Columbia, MD, can offer a deep understanding of Maryland family law and years of experience navigating the legal system.

Their expertise can be invaluable in ensuring your children's best interests are protected throughout the process, whether you're working towards an amicable agreement or require strong representation in court.

Maryland Child Custody Law

There are two types of custody that a court may order:

  • Legal custody involves the right to make decisions that significantly affect a child’s life relating to their health, education, religion, and general welfare. The court can order sole legal custody to one parent or joint legal custody whereby the parents must work together in making decisions that affect their child. Courts may order additional provisions regarding joint legal custody, including awarding one parent tie-breaking authority in the event of a dispute.
  • Physical custody involves where the child will reside and who will have the decision-making ability regarding day-to-day activities.

In contested custody cases, the court will make a decision regarding physical and legal custody of the children. Alternatively, parties can come to an agreement regarding settlement of a custody arrangement. The guiding principle for the court in any child custody case is what is in the best interest of the child.

Many factors are considered by the court in making a best interest determination including:

  • fitness of the parents
  • willingness of the parents to share custody
  • any agreements between the parents
  • potential for the child to maintain familial relations
  • child’s preference (when appropriate)
  • potential disruption to child’s school and social life
  • material opportunities affecting the child
  • child’s age and health
  • suitability of the parental homes
  • whether the non-custodial parent will have reasonable visitation
  • how long the child has been separated from a parent
  • any prior abandonment or surrender of the child
  • any other relevant facts

When a third party (i.e. someone who is not one of the child’s legal parents) is seeking custody, Maryland case law has long maintained a presumption that it is in a child’s best interest to be raised by his or her parents. This presumption can be rebutted by a showing of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances. In contested custody cases between two parents, there is no presumption in favor of awarding custody to either parent; the court has wide discretion to act in the child’s best interests.

At What Age Can Child Decide Custody in Maryland?

In Maryland, a child can express their preference for custody at 16.

However, the court will still consider all the factors involved in making a custody decision, including the child's wishes, the parents' parenting abilities, and the child's best interests.

The court will also consider the child's maturity and ability to understand the consequences of their decision.

If the court believes the child needs to be more mature to make an informed decision, it may give their preference little weight.

Ultimately, deciding who will have child custody is up to the Maryland court.

The court in Columbia will decide based on what it believes is in the child's best interests.

What is Considered an Unfit Parent in Maryland?

In Maryland, an unfit parent is someone who fails to meet the established legal standards of parental responsibility. Unfit parents may demonstrate a lack of care or concern for their children's safety and well-being. They may also display patterns of behavior that are detrimental to their children's physical, emotional, or psychological development. Examples of such behaviors include neglectful parenting, substance abuse, domestic violence, criminal activity, mental illness, and other similar issues.

If you believe your former partner has become an unfit parent in Maryland due to these behaviors, it is important to take legal action as soon as possible. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process of taking away the other parent's rights and responsibilities. This may include modifying child custody orders, removing parental rights, or terminating a parent's legal relationship with the child entirely. By working with an attorney familiar with Maryland's family law regulations, you can ensure that your children are protected from any further harm caused by their unfit parents.

Family Legal Advocacy Group: Your Ally in Child Custody Matters

There is no court decision that can have more of an emotional impact on a parent than a custody order.

FLAG attorneys’ extensive experience advocating for both parents and children makes us uniquely qualified to explain to our clients those factors that are most important when the court evaluates what is in your child’s best interest in making a custody decision.

We will attempt to resolve your case amicably, always cognizant of your desired outcome. But should your case proceed to trial, we will be well prepared with an articulate, persuasive argument to obtain a favorable ruling for you.

Call our office (410) 884-0400 to schedule an Initial Consultation to discuss your legal rights and secure the future of your family.

Clickto read our Blog articles on Custody

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Read What Our Clients Have to Say
  • "Ms. Laynor was extremely knowledgeable, personable, and thorough throughout the time we worked together."
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  • "Emily was fantastic to work with! She walked me through every step along the way and made sure I was comfortable with what was happening. She is patient, kind, and understanding but also fights for what her client deserves."
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  • "Anna Lindner walked me through the roughest time in my life. She was patient, understanding, resourceful, responsive, and comforting while also being my strength and confidence. She was aggressive when she needed to be and fought for what I deserved."
    David
  • "Ms. Thomas was a pleasure to work with during my case. She was an excellent advocate for my son and won my case for him. He now has all the help he needs in school because of her determination."
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  • "Anne Kelly Laynor was extremely prepared and always in control of the situation. Most importantly for me though, she was a calming force during an extremely emotional time. I feel extremely lucky and even grateful to have had her by my side."
    Former Client
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  • "Sarah has the unique ability to get right to the point and tell it ” like it is” while also being sensitive and considerate, which means that she isn’t wasting time and racking up needless billable hours."
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