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What Types of Custody Are There?

Physical custody and legal custody are the only child custody agreements that can be made in Maryland as of this writing.

One or both parents may be granted physical custody of a child. If only one parent is given custody, it is also referred to as sole custody. The parent who isn’t granted custody in that situation is known as a non-custodial parent.

Both parents will need overnight visitations for at least 92 overnights before physical custody can be shared. The parents must also pay any required child support and other regular expenses associated with the child’s health and well-being. Insurance, doctor’s bills, clothes, and other common charges can be included in those expenses.

Legal custody allows one or both parents to be able to make significant decisions that can impact a minor child. The child’s religious affiliation, any medical treatments, and choice of education can be determined by parents who have legal custody of their children.

If only one parent is named a child’s legal custodian, they are the only person who can make these and other similar decisions for the child. The other parent may offer suggestions or advice but cannot make those choices in any way. It is important that those decisions and concerns regarding the possible choices and outcomes be communicated between both parents. That way, there should be very few (if any) disputes regarding those issues. If a custody agreement can’t be reached by the parents, the judge will make the determination as to physical and legal custody.

You can make requests to change the custody agreement at any time. Any requested modification should be proven to be in the respective child’s best interests and the change must be material. The court will decide whether to approve the request after the change petition has been brought forth. The modification must have happened some time after the last custody decision was made.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is a certain dollar amount that’s specified by a court of law that will be paid for the child in question. Child support guidelines were put into place that dictate what amounts must be paid.

Several factors contribute to how much child support is required. Daycare expenses, children’s medical costs, alimony, the person or persons who have physical custody of the child, health insurance and each parent’s gross income are some of the primary attributes that are considered in this calculation.

How Is Child Support Paid?

All new child support orders may be paid by wage attachment. The payments will also take the parent’s income into account. For instance, if one parent earns $4,000 monthly and the other parent earns $2,000 monthly, the first parent would be responsible for 2/3 of the monthly child support payment amount, and the other payment will need to pay the other 1/3 that remains.

Your current employment information should be provided when the child support request is made. If you change your job at any time, that data must be transmitted to the respective child support office as soon as possible.

What Happens If Child Support Payments Are Late?

Wages can be garnished if child support payments are late. The owed amount can be taken out of a parent’s workers’ compensation or unemployment compensation as well. A Wage Garnishment Order can be issued by the Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Money for back child support can also be taken out of the parent’s lottery winnings, bank accounts or state or federal tax refunds. The court could decide to hold that person in contempt. This could result in jail time for failure to pay child support as scheduled.

Late or non-payment of child support can be reported to the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). This can affect your credit and possible future employment. It could also cause passport requests to be denied or be reported to the Motor Vehicle Association and other recreational and professional licensing departments.

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What Is Child Visitation?

Visitation arrangements can be made to decide when and how much time the parent that a child doesn’t live with can spend with them. Form CC-DR 5 is used when filing for child visitation rights. Visitation is usually only determined for a parent. It isn’t considered for a grandparent or other relative unless special circumstances prevail (such as the death or incarceration of one parent, for example).

The child’s visitation schedule should be received and adhered to by both parents. Once a child reaches 16 years of age, they can legally ask for change of custody by the court. The court will review their request and approve or deny it as necessary. If both parents can’t agree on a proper visitation schedule, the court will intervene and create a schedule that the judge feels is in the best interest of the child.

Who Determines Child Visitation?

Visitation rights are prepared in a court of law. Both parties generally agree to the rules and schedules that are established after they have been confirmed by a judge. Supervised visitation may be mandatory if the judge deems that the child’s well-being could be jeopardized. Visitation rights could even be denied in extreme circumstances.

Every child custody and visitation request is unique. No parent is favored over the other beforehand. The child is not required to attend the courtroom proceedings. In most cases, minor children aren’t allowed in courtrooms.

The court will need to know about any major changes in the child’s life. If a parent wants to move out of state, that information must be provided. A petition is required if a parent wants to change their child’s last name.

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!

Child custody and visitation rights can be confusing. It’s okay to have questions. You can always contact us for a no obligation consultation. We can address your concerns and help you come up with a visitation schedule. We’re here to help.