Columbia Child Custody


Columbia Maryland Child Custody Lawyers

Help for parents seeking custody and visitation in Howard County

Columbia Child Custody Attorneys

Children often suffer much more than their parents realize when a divorce happens. Children often suffer from anxiety, depression, guilt and other negative emotions when their parents divorce or separate, so it is important that they are given some kind of structure right away.

At McCabe Russell, PA, our Columbia child custody lawyers understand the importance of creating a firm parenting plan that sets forth where the children will stay, with whom, and what the roles and duties of the parents are. Our attorneys help parents and children succeed after a divorce. We negotiate and use alternative dispute methods to resolve child custody issues where possible, but litigate child custody when necessary. Our lawyers are also certified as Best Interest Attorneys. For strong advocacy, please call us at 443-812-1435 or complete our contact form to make an appointment at our office.

How is physical custody decided?

In Maryland, both you and your spouse have the right to parent and spend time with your children, barring some exceptions. Physical custody isn’t just about where the child lives. It is about the daily care and raising of the child, including:

  • Making the meals
  • Overseeing the child’s friends
  • Planning activities
  • Reviewing and helping with homework

What factors does the court consider in deciding child custody?

The factors, in addition to the ability to provide for daily needs, that control which parent should have physical custody if that type of custody is disputed, are:

  • Each parent’s physical and mental abilities. Raising a child takes a lot of energy and a lot of time. Parents should be able to put the best interests of their child first and foremost at all times. A parent with certain physical or mental limitations may face additional challenges when it comes to custody, which is why you need a lawyer to protect your rights.
  • The ability to work with other relatives. Courts often favor parents who can get along with relatives on both sides of the divorce divide, including grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and relatives of both parents. A strong family unit is important for child development, and ensuring that your children have access to their family can play a role in the custody decision.
  • The child’s living needs. In addition to a preference to root the child in the same school and home, the family court considers the living arrangements of each parent. This includes the condition of the bedrooms, whether there are other children in the neighborhood and other factors.
  • Any special needs of the child. If children have special needs, the ability to help the child with those needs is also a physical custody factor.
  • The child’s wishes. Young children rarely have any say in who is their physical custodian, but older children may have some voice in the decision.

At what age can a child express their preference for which parent they want to live with in Maryland?

At age 16, the court may take the child’s preference as to which parent they want to live with into consideration when deciding child custody.

Please note that the court will make a ruling based on what is in the child’s best interests. Your child’s preferences may play a role in this decision, or they may not.

Developing a parenting plan agreement

Under Maryland law, in most circumstances both parents have a right to time with their children after a divorce. Ideally, you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will decide how this time is spent and create a parenting plan that reflects your choice. In some cases, however, the Court may intervene, and make the decision for you. Two of the roles we play as your custody lawyers are to help you develop that parenting plan, and to prove to the court your child’s best interests are aligned with, and reflected by, the plan you create.

Our attorneys often work to prepare a parenting plan which details:

  • The legal and physical custody decision, exactly what authorities apply and exactly when the child is with each parent
  • A specific visitation schedule
  • How the child will get from one parent to the other
  • How future disputes will be handled

Parenting plans should be as precise as possible. However, precision does not mean “boilerplate.” You and your former partner can design a parenting plan that is more creative, and more suited to the unique needs of you and your children. The Courts will, generally speaking, go along with this plan as long as it is in the best interest of your children.

Other child custody considerations we handle

Some other custody matters our family lawyers negotiate or litigate are visitation rights and temporary custody. If one parent has sole custody, then the other parent will normally be granted visitation rights. Standard visitation rights are alternate weekends, alternate holidays, and several weeks summer vacation.

A temporary custody hearing, known as a pendente lite hearing, may be needed to determine legal and physical custody issues while the divorce is pending, but before a final decree is granted.

Types of Cases We Handle

Our Columbia child custody attorneys handle a variety of cases, including:

Make the call to speak with a compassionate Columbia child custody attorney today

Children need stability. Parents need to always understand that their child’s interests have the top priority. At McCabe Russell, PA, we are dedicated to helping parents make the right choices for their children. We understand how upsetting and stressful child custody cases can be. Our extensive custody case experience and our work with child psychologists and other consultants for children are just several of many reasons we can guide parents and children through this difficult time. For strong advocacy, please call us at 443-812-1435 or complete our contact form to make an appointment at our office in Columbia, Rockville, Fulton or Bethesda.