Things have changed in Maryland
A child visitation lawyer can help you maintain strong parent-child relationships during difficult times. Most parents value and need ongoing contact with their children. And, this is particularly true if your children do not live with you. Below, learn about Maryland’s child visitation laws and how to assert your rights.
The old methodology of simply allowing the mother to gain custody and visitation of the children is long gone. There is no presumption that the mother will get custody. In some respects, it still involves the stress of the motion that comes with divorce, a custody or visitation battle and the uncertainty about whether you get to see the children.
No longer will the mother simply get custody simply because by virtue of her gender and the father would no longer be simply shut out because of his gender. The courts look at each individual parent on the basis of what is in the best interest of children.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that things will simply fall into place. You need the Council and guidance of the James E Crawford Jr Associates law firm to help you through the situation. We can help.
How Does Visitation Work?
When a couple is together, you share custody of your children. When a relationship ends, either by divorce or a breakup, parents must sort out a child custody arrangement. When one parent gets primary or sole custody of a child, the non-custodial parent typically receives visitation rights. In other words, both parents have the right to contact and spend time with their child.
During a breakup, even devoted parents can make unwise and emotional decisions. Under certain circumstances, a court might order supervised visitation such as if you are:
- Undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation,
- Receiving mental health treatment, or
Supervised visitation typically involves meeting with your child at a neutral location. And, if you are uncomfortable seeing your ex, you might have monitored or staggered hand-offs of your child.
How Do I Assert my Visitation Rights?
A court-ordered visitation schedule can help minimize disputes about parent-child contact and communications. While some parents can agree to the terms of a visitation schedule on their own, many couples need help from a child visitation lawyer. Your lawyer might:
- Help you negotiate a fair visitation schedule and present it to the Baltimore Circuit Court for approval,
- Guide you through an alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation,
- File a complaint for visitation on your behalf, and
Judges must consider your child’s best interests when awarding visitation. The frequency and extent of your visitation rights might depend on:
- The age and number of children involved,
- Your child’s wishes (if age-appropriate),
- The amount of travel required to see your child,
- The parents’ work schedules,
- Your child’s school and other schedules,
- Your child’s need for stability,
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate and maintain a civil relationship,
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse,
- Your child’s health, and
- Your child’s physical and emotional needs.
Once you have a court-ordered visitation schedule, you must follow it– even if the non-custodial parent has unpaid child support. If your ex violates your visitation order, you should demand his or her compliance. If your requests are ignored, contact a child visitation lawyer immediately. A parent who violates a visitation order might face:
- Criminal charges, including:
- Contempt of court,
- Kidnapping, and
- Child abuse, and
- Civil penalties, including the termination or reduction of visitation or custody rights.
However, Baltimore courts always maintain jurisdiction over child custody and visitation matters. If your circumstances significantly change, you can ask the court to modify the visitation order.
Can a Grandparent or Other Family Member Get Visitation Rights?
Grandparents, stepparents, and other family members do not typically have custody rights unless the child’s biological parents are unfit. However, they might have limited visitation rights. These claims are complicated and require extensive legal analysis. If you are a grandparent or other family member, you should consult with a child visitation lawyer before filing a complaint for visitation.
Speak with a Child Visitation Lawyer
Before you give up your custody or visitation rights, you should always consult with a Baltimore child visitation lawyer. Since 1993, James E. Crawford & Associates has represented both mothers and fathers in visitation claims. If you have questions about a visitation order, contact us for a consultation.
Create a Maryland child visitation agreement.
It’s also called a parenting plan. You will need to come to the table with a basic understanding of what it will take to accomplish creating this agreement. You have to be realistic and so does the other side. Parenting plans need to be extremely specific down to the details. They will detail when, where, why and how you plan to spend time with the kids, all while spelling out practical arrangements the deed to be made between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse or partner. Sometimes this can be difficult. That’s why we are here to help and assist you to get through this process.
Visitation is just a word that lawyers use. In other words, this could be a life-altering situation for you and your kids and it needs to be taken very seriously. You need someone that can spell out practical arrangements and articulate specific legal rights. You have to decide that you’re ready to work on this agreement. If you want us to help call me today for a free initial consultation. Contact us at 443-709-9999.
The attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates have represented clients in the state of Maryland since 1993. Mr. Crawford established the firm in the hopes of providing personalized services to clients going through trying family law issues.- Since then, he has worked with his personally-trained attorneys at his firm to help hundreds of clients throughout the state maintain their reputation and protect their assets.
Our team at James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates practice law and fighting for their clients throughout the entire State of Maryland, including Baltimore, Catonsville, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s counties. In our approach to representing our clients, we provide both positive results and a comprehensive education of the legal system throughout the process, guaranteeing each client a smoother and less intimidating experience during their case.
If you are separating from your spouse or partner, a Baltimore child support lawyer can help you ensure your child’s welfare and financial stability. As your relationship ends, both you and your child might worry about his or her living expenses– including housing, work-related child care, and medical bills. At James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates, we can help you protect your child and ease their transition during a divorce or separation.
How Do I Get Child Support?
Under Maryland law, a parent must financially support his or her children– even if the parents’ relationship ends. When you separate from your child’s other parent, it’s always in your best interest to get a child support order. Unlike a verbal promise, a child support order is legally enforceable and clearly defines each parent’s responsibilities.
Sometimes, parents can agree on child support payments and include them in their court-approved separation agreement. If cannot negotiate a separation agreement, you should file a Complaint for Child Support with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City or Baltimore County. The court will schedule a hearing and issue calculate child support for you.
Calculating Child Support in Maryland
Maryland child support is based on a series of guidelines. The courts must consider:
- The number of children involved,
- The parents’ child custody arrangement (sole or shared),
- Each parent’s income,
- Health insurance and medical care costs, and
- Child care costs,
While this may seem like a simple calculation, child support numbers involve a nuanced analysis. For example, if a parent could work, but instead decides to “voluntarily impoverish” himself or herself, the court might base a child support award on his or her imputed income (or wage-earning capacity). Or, under certain circumstances, the guidelines might not apply at all.
A child support lawyer can help ensure that your calculations are correct and fully take into account your child’s needs. Without the help of an experienced lawyer, you may seriously undervalue (or overvalue) support payments. It’s always best to get child support right the first time– otherwise, you will end up spending additional time and money modifying the inaccurate court order.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
While many parents accept their financial responsibility and willingly comply with their child support order, disputes are not uncommon. If your child’s parent refuses to pay child support, you have legal rights.
A child support lawyer or the Maryland Child Support Administration can help you recover unpaid child support. A defaulting parent might face:
- Garnishment of his or her wages, government benefit payments, income tax returns, or lottery winnings,
- Judgment liens on his or her property,
- Loss of his or her driver’s license,
- Loss of his or her professional licenses,
- Denial of a passport application or renewal, and
- Jail time.
Modifying a Child Support Order
In Baltimore, you can modify a child support order if the parents’ circumstances change significantly. For example, you might modify a child support order if a parent:
- Suffers a job loss or loses significant income,
- Experiences income growth,
- Becomes disabled, or
- Loses or gains child custody,
Depending on your circumstances, a modification can either increase or reduce a child support obligation.
To modify a child support order, you must file a written motion. You should never stop paying child support on your current order. Non-payment might result in serious penalties. Instead, contact an experienced child support lawyer at James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates. We can help you change a child support order so that it is fair and appropriate under your new circumstances.
Free Consultation with a Premiere Maryland Family Law Attorney
If you’re in need of a Family Law attorney in Maryland, you might not know where to begin. Let us help you.
If you are considering a divorce, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Baltimore divorce lawyer. At James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates, we have guided our clients through divorces and legal separations since 1992. We provide compassionate advice and aggressive legal representation, ensuring that our clients receive their fair share of child custody and marital property. If you are in need of a Baltimore, Maryland Family Law lawyer, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates at 443-709-9999 today.