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Maryland Child Custody Lawyer

Child Custody Lawyer with Offices in Chevy Chase and Bethesda, Maryland

One of the toughest decisions that divorcing parents must agree on is the custody of minor children from the marriage. In fact, oftentimes, couples try to hold on to a crumbling relationship for the sake of the children. How will the custody of the children be determined? How will physical and legal custody of the children be split between the couple? How often will the noncustodial parent see the children? These are all questions that are guided by law, with the best interests of the children being the leading consideration. If you need help resolving a child custody matter, you should speak with a Maryland child custody lawyer.

At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we understand the impact a custody case can have on your child’s well-being, and work vigorously to protect your child’s best interests.

Why Choose Us?

We know that

  • the most important custody case is yours. We diligently keep up with your case and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Whether your case is resolved by a negotiated agreement or we take it to court, it remains a top priority until we get a resolution that protects your interests.
  • We listen hard, and work even harder.
  • Our lawyers are top-rated.

Your children deserve a stable and nurturing home for their growth and development. We can help you give them that. Call us today at (301) 889-8085 to schedule a consultation with a member of our team and learn more about how a dedicated and compassionate Maryland child custody lawyer can support your case.

Maryland Child Custody Law: Overview

Child custody matters in Maryland are governed by the provisions of Titles 5, 9, and 9.5 of the Maryland Code, Family Law, and by precedents set in decided cases on child custody. While Maryland follows the general standard of putting the best interest of the child first, there are particular guidelines that will differ from other states. As such it is important to hire a child custody law attorney who knows the law and its application in your particular circumstances.

Factors Considered in Determining the Best Interest of the Child

Determining what is in the best interest of the child, is a matter of law based on careful examination of the specific facts in each individual case. In every case, the court is concerned with evaluating the homes competing for custody and determining which home provides the best chances for the child’s future.

Although the courts have wide discretion in making custody determination, the final outcome must be based on careful examination of the facts rather than any personal beliefs or biases. A list of factors for consideration in making a determination for child custody has emerged from the resolution of past cases.

In determining the best interests of the child, some of the factors considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Any agreements between the parents and the willingness of the parents to share custody;
  • Each parent’s ability to maintain the child’s relationships with the other parent, siblings, relatives, and any other person who may psychologically affect the child’s best interest;
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ residences and opportunities for time with each parent;
  • The financial status of the parents;
  • The demands of parental employment and opportunities for time with the child;

  • The age, health, and sex of the child; and
  • The relationship established between the child and each parent.

Bethesda MD Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference Between Legal and Physical Custody in Maryland?

The two types of custody that the courts obey in Maryland are legal and physical custody. Legal custody pertains to having authority on behalf of a child to make important and long-term life decisions. These decisions concern health, religion, education, and overall welfare and care. On the other hand, physical custody in Maryland is about access to and visitation rights to a child. It relates to where a child will live and how often the other parent can visit and spend time with the child.

How would one open a new child custody case?

You need to fill out a Complaint for Custody or Form CC-DR-004, asking the court to grant you custody. It should be filed with the Circuit Court where the child or either of the parents lives. Give a copy to the other parent and keep one for yourself. The parent who files an initial complaint will pay a court filing fee, which costs $165. Or you can ask the court to waive the fee by submitting a filled out fee waiver form with your complaint.

What if your child lives out-of-state?

For this particular case or scenario, special rules apply. If the child lives in a different state than one of the parents, the UCCJEA (Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) will determine the state that has jurisdiction to hear the case. There are quite a few steps that need to be taken to determine which state will hear the case, so it is best to consult your attorney beforehand.

What to do once you are served with a Complaint for Custody?

You can fill out Form CC-DR-050 to answer the complaint. You need to tick off, depending on your choice, the box admitting or denying the statements in the complaint. If the custody order you want is different from what the party who filed the initial complaint wants, you can file a Counter-Complaint for Custody or Form CC-DR-095. You must provide copies to the other party of everything you file in court.

What is the deadline to Answer a Complaint?

If you reside in Maryland, you have thirty (30) days to file an answer; sixty (60) days if you live out-of-state; and ninety (90) days, if you live outside of the U.S.

Can grandparents seek custody or visitation rights in Maryland?

Yes, grandparents can seek custody or visitation rights in Maryland under certain circumstances. The court considers the best interests of the child and may grant custody or visitation rights to grandparents if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests.

What happens after the documents have been filed?

First, there will be a scheduling conference with a judge or magistrate to discuss programs supporting a settlement. The court will also conduct hearings, schedule deadlines, and give information regarding parenting plans. If you and your spouse cannot agree on certain things, the judge will schedule a pre-trial settlement conference to discuss the issues in dispute. These issues will then be decided on during a court trial.

Can a parent deny visitation if the other parent fails to pay child support?

No, visitation rights and child support are separate legal matters. A parent cannot deny visitation based on the other parent’s failure to pay child support. If child support is not being paid, appropriate legal action should be taken to address the issue, but visitation should still be upheld as ordered by the court.

What if we fail to reach an agreement? What happens during a trial?

Child custody trials are presided by and conducted in the presence of a judge or magistrate, not a jury. Hotly contested or disputed trials can be very complex, making it beneficial for you to hire a lawyer. Before making a decision, the court will need other forms of professional suggestions and perspective. During the trial, each side will give an opening statement, present evidence or proof, and provide a closing argument. Closing arguments are a delivery of what you want and why the court should give you its sympathy and rule in your favor. In case you disagree and find the court’s ruling unfavorable, you may ask for a review.

Do you have any questions regarding child custody in Maryland as it relates to your case? Our family law attorneys can answer your questions and help you move forward with securing the best outcome for yourself and your children. Feel free to call (301) 889-8085 or schedule a consultation online.

How a Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

To make a child custody decision, the courts rely on facts rather than sentiment. The courts have the power to consider any evidence which bears on the child’s physical and emotional well-being. An experienced child custody lawyer knows the law and also knows what evidence will be persuasive to the courts in support of your argument.

A child custody lawyer has access to professionals including doctors and therapists who can give expert testimony to support your case. They can testify as to their observations of the child with both parents, and their professional opinion as to any issues that present harm to the health and welfare of the child. They can also give testimony on whether there are any issues present in one parent’s home that may have any adverse impact on the child’s development and overall well-being.

If you need help with your child custody case, the Maryland child custody lawyers at Petrelli Previtera, LLC are at your service.

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

Jennifer A.

My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

David R.

My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

Caitlin B.