Rockville Child Custody
Rockville Child Custody Attorneys
Advising parents on the best ways to establish legal and physical custody in Montgomery County
It can be difficult enough for parents to control their emotions when divorce happens. For children, the trauma of divorce can be overwhelming. Children of divorce need as much consistency as possible. They need to know where they will live, who has the responsibility for making decisions for them, and that both parents still love them and want them to be happy. Children of all ages need both parents to guide them and help them become successful adults.
At McCabe Russell, PA, our Rockville child custody lawyers understand the needs of children and how parents can show that they are responsible, caring parents. We fight to establish a parenting plan that sets forth who makes the long-term and short-term decisions for the children, and to prove that your goals are in line with your children’s needs.
What are the two types of legal custody in Maryland?
There are two kinds of custody in Maryland – legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody is the right of a parent, or both parents, to decide how the child is educated, which doctors will treat the child, and the moral or religious upbringing of the child. Usually, family courts prefer that both parents be in the child’s life and that both share legal custody. Our lawyers generally recommend shared custody, but advocate for sole custody if we believe that is better for your children and you.
Physical custody is the authority for a child to live with you and for you to make daily decisions for him/her. Physical custody can be shared if children don’t live with a mother or father more than 65% of the time. Shared physical custody does require a fair amount of dedication by the parents so the child doesn’t feel like he or she is being bounced from on parent to the other. Physical custody means much more than just providing the child with a place to sleep. It means making the meals, supervising his or her education and relationships, disciplining the child, and spending the time necessary to help him/her mature.
If one parent has sole physical custody, then the other parent is, with rare exception, entitled to have visitation rights with the child. Standard visitation is normally every other weekend, alternative holidays, several weeks in the summer, and possibly other days during the year.
Must I go to trial?
Yes and no. You may eventually have to appear before a judge, but that is not the same as “going to trial.” Many times, we can resolve disputes by:
- Engaging child counselors to evaluate the emotional needs of the children
- Using a mediator to facilitate reaching a custody decision
- Working collaboratively to try to settle all phases of a divorce, including custody
In contested divorces, a temporary custody order may be needed to determine where the child will live and who will be responsible for them until the divorce and custody matters are decided.
What factors are considered in legal and physical custody decisions?
Courts and child custody attorneys review the following factors when working toward custody decisions:
- The ability to provide for the children. The size and rooms in the home, the school the child will attend, the status of the neighborhood, and other home-setting conditions are considered. Courts consider stability, the equitable distribution award, alimony, and both the intangible and tangible qualities a child needs.
- The health of the parents. Parents who are unable to properly care for their children because they suffer from a debilitating illness (such as terminal cancer, or a condition like MS) or who suffer from certain mental health conditions, may face an uphill battle when it comes to custody.
- Whether there are other children. Courts typically keep siblings together instead of splitting them between parents.
- The ability to communicate with other members of the family. Relatives who will not let their child see their mother-in-law (barring certain circumstances) may been seen as obstructive, as opposed to parents who can put aside family conflict for the child’s benefit.
- The desires of the children. Older children do sometimes have some say in where they will live. Young children generally have little or no say in custody decisions.
Agreements for custody, called parenting plans, and court orders should detail legal custody, physical custody, visitation schedules, and may detail items such as how the child will get from one home to the other. If possible, parenting plans should also resolve how future disputes would be handled so the parents don’t continually run into court.
Speak with a trusted Rockville custody lawyer as soon as possible
Children must come first. Parents who separate or divorce need to immediately discuss whether the children will stay in the marital home and who and when the children can be with or communicate with each parent. Once legal and physical custody decisions are made, they last, with some exceptions, until the child reaches the age of majority. To understand your custody rights, please call the experienced custody lawyers at McCabe Russell, PA at 443-812-1435 or complete our contact form.
199 E Montgomery Ave
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: (443) 812-1435