• Do Grandparents Have a Right to See Children After a Divorce?

    Under divorce law, it is presumed that, barring evidence to the contrary, it’s in a child’s best interests to have balanced and ongoing access to both parents. Even when this is accomplished, other relatives may sometimes get left out. Grandparents can be powerful role models and loving caregivers for children. Grandparents who have been refused time with their grandchildren do have the legal right to request visitation. This is a complex issue, however, and grandparents are more likely to have a favorable outcome for their case by working with a family law attorney serving the Owings Mills area. grandparent - custody

    Understanding Federal Rulings

    Initially, Maryland divorce law simply stated that the court may choose to award reasonable visitation to grandparents if it’s in the child’s best interests. Family law judges have considerable discretion when determining if something is or isn’t in a child’s best interests. However, this law was affected by a decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. The case, Troxel v. Granville, was resolved with the ruling that fit parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions in their children’s best interests, and that they could choose to deny visitation with grandparents.

    Overriding Parental Objections

    In 2002, the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a ruling on the case of Shurupoff v. Vockroff. In its ruling, the court established two ways in which grandparents could successfully obtain visitation despite parental objections. The first is to prove parental unfitness. The second is by proving that exceptional circumstances apply. Grandparent rights were further supported by the decision in the 2007 case, Koshko v. Haining. In its ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that exceptional circumstances exist to override parental objections when the absence of grandparent visitation would be harmful to the child.

    Seeking Visitation with Grandchildren

    Both case law and statutory law are still evolving in Maryland regarding grandparent visitation rights. A family lawyer can evaluate the merits of seeking visitation on a case-by-case basis, considering any recent legal developments. The process of seeking visitation rights starts with the filing of a petition with the appropriate court.

  • Parenting Agreements for Unmarried Parents

    The end of a relationship can be difficult, regardless of whether the couple was married or not. This is especially true when the couple shares a child. Even though the couple won’t need to file for divorce, they’ll still need to consult a child custody lawyer in the Owings Mills area regarding custody, visitation, and support agreements. It is possible, though not always practical, for unmarried ex-partners to make parenting agreements without going to court. child - custody

    Identify the custody and visitation issues that must be resolved.

    There are many more issues that must be agreed upon other than the type of child custody you’ll have. Consider these questions regarding common child custody issues:

    • Which parent will the child primarily live with?
    • When will the other parent spend time with the child?
    • Will there be overnight visitation?
    • Who is responsible for picking up/dropping off the child?
    • Will either parent be able to call the child at any time?
    • With whom will the child spend holidays and school vacations?
    • Will either parent be able to move out of the area?
    • How will household rules remain consistent across houses?
    • Who will make major decisions for the child’s upbringing?

    A solid parenting agreement is one that is specific and easily understood. It’s best to make major decisions ahead of time, but both parents should know that a little flexibility is also important. For instance, a parenting agreement might not specify that visitation time might be canceled if the child has a stomach flu, but if the parents are reasonably flexible, they can adjust their plans to suit the child’s needs.

    Agree about the child’s support.

    A family lawyer can help you calculate a reasonable child support payment based on state guidelines. This may help prevent disputes about paying too much or not enough. In the support agreement, be sure to specify the amount, frequency of payment, and form of payment (check, cash, etc.).

    Establish an avenue for change.

    It’s normal for parenting and support agreements to change over time, whether or not a court established them. As the child grows older, his or her needs and preferences will change. It’s a good idea to have a written agreement with your ex to meet at least annually to discuss whether there are any new issues that must be resolved. Some problems may arise before your planned annual meeting. Consider setting guidelines for how you and your ex will manage disputes. A proactive mindset may help you avoid court in the future.

  • What Is Negligent Manslaughter?

    The killing of one human being by another may be prosecuted under a few different charges. Homicide, for example, is an intentional killing. Manslaughter is different, but the potential legal penalties are still quite severe. If you or a loved one has been charged with manslaughter, it’s important to contact an attorney in Owings Mills right away. You can also watch this featured video for a quick introduction to this charge.

    This legal professional explains that a person can be charged with negligent manslaughter if he or she acted in a negligent manner that resulted in another person’s death. This charge does not require that the defendant intended to kill the other person. For example, a drunk driver might not intend to kill a pedestrian, but the death could occur if the drunk driver strikes that person.

  • Common Questions About Property Division in Maryland

    Divorce typically has substantial effects on personal finances. Not only will the spouses have to adjust to living on a single income, but they won’t have access to the same financial assets as before. The division of property is subject to Maryland divorce laws and factors that are unique to each individual case. For accurate legal guidance, it’s advisable to consult a divorce attorney serving Owings Mills . marital - property

    What is marital property?

    It’s a common misconception that marital property refers solely to property that is jointly owned by both spouses. In fact, marital property includes almost any property that was acquired during the marriage. This applies regardless of which spouse purchased the property or earned the wages. Marital property includes vehicles, furniture, artwork, real estate, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. There are a few exceptions to this rule. If one spouse receives an inheritance or property as a gift, it’s considered non-marital property. Property is also excluded if there is a valid, legal agreement that excludes it.

    Is marital property divided 50/50?

    Another common myth about property division in a divorce is that each spouse receives half of the marital assets. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, rather than a community property state. In an equitable distribution state, the court issues rulings on property division based on what would be fair for both parties. A fair result isn’t necessarily an equal distribution.

    Can property be both marital and non-marital?

    In certain cases, it’s possible for property to be marital and non-marital. One person might purchase a condo before the marriage, which would make the condo non-marital property. However, if marital assets are then used to pay the mortgage, the condo becomes partially marital and non-marital property.

    Does the length of the marriage factor into property division?

    The length of the marriage does not necessarily have a significant impact on property division, unless the marriage was short-lived. Short-term marriages do not generally give the spouses enough time to accrue significant marital property. In these situations, the goal of the court is generally to restore both individuals to their pre-marital financial situations. The spouses can expect to keep the property they each brought to the marriage, and fairly divide any assets acquired during the marriage.

  • Can a Child Express Custody Preferences to the Court?

    Child custody is one of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process. Ideally, child custody issues for families in Owings Mills may be resolved by the parents through mediation. But when the parents disagree, the judge will make the decisions regarding parenting arrangements. The preferences of the minor child may play a role in the judge’s decision. However, it is not typically the only factor that a divorce judge will consider. The judge will give greater weight to the preferences of the child when that child displays maturity and offers a well-reasoned explanation of why one parent is preferred over the other. Superficial reasons such as fewer rules at one house will not help a child’s case.

    Even if a mature child has valid reasons why he or she prefers to primarily live with a particular parent, the judge is not likely to require the child to testify in court. Testifying in front of the parents can be psychologically damaging for a child of any age. Instead, the judge may decide to interview the child in chambers. Family lawyers may be present during the interview, but the parents will not be there.

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  • Helping Your Child Adjust to Visitation

    After a divorce or legal separation, you and your ex will follow a court-ordered parenting plan. This document establishes the type of child custody that both parents will have and it specifies when the child will be with each parent. Visitation is difficult to adjust to for both parents and children, but as time passes, the arrangement will start to feel more normal. Remember that it is possible to petition for a modification of the visitation schedule as your child grows and situations change. Talk to a family law attorney near Owings Mills for guidance. visitation - rights

    Maintaining a Routine

    Try to imagine how difficult it must be for a child to live in two separate households with two separate routines and sets of rules. Consistency across both households will help your child feel more secure and may even curb problematic behaviors as he or she grows older. Ideally, you and your ex can maintain similar daily routines and household rules, such as finishing homework before playtime and having dinner by a certain time.

    Feeling at Home

    If you’re the parent who moved out of the family home, you have the added challenge of helping your child feel at home in the new residence. Your child should have a bedroom of his or her own. Your child should arrange and decorate the bedroom to take ownership of the space. Extravagance is not necessary, but comfort is. Resist the temptation to purchase lots of new toys for your child for the purpose of distracting him or her from the new arrangement. Instead, focus on spending quality time together enjoying activities that you would normally do with your child.

    Handling Overnights

    Overnight visitation can be stressful for young children, particularly during school breaks when a child might live away from the primary residence for a week or longer. Do not take it as an insult if your child expresses homesickness or misses the other parent. Encourage your child to share these feelings openly and offer judgment-free reassurances.

    Staying Connected

    Children should always feel free to contact either of their parents regardless of which parent they are currently with. Phone calls, text messaging, and video calls strengthen the child’s relationship with each parent. Whenever it’s practical to do so, give your child privacy as he or she chats with the other parent.

  • Parenting Skills During a Divorce

    As difficult as a divorce might be for you and your spouse, it’s far more difficult for your children. Throughout each stage of the divorce process , prioritizing your children’s well-being and quality of life will help them get through the transition. After a divorce lawyer in Owings Mills files the divorce petition on your behalf, you and your spouse should sit down together with the children to break the news.

    This featured video offers some tips for telling kids about a divorce or legal separation. These parenting experts recommend avoiding the details of why the divorce is necessary. Instead, offer concrete examples of how daily life will change and provide plenty of reassurances of your love to help your children feel secure. Both during and long after the divorce, it’s essential to avoid disparaging your ex in front of the kids; they shouldn’t feel as though they must choose sides.

  • Medication Disputes and Co-Parenting: A Look at Common Problems and Solutions

    Even when parents are both committed to co-parenting cooperatively for the benefit of their children, disputes are inevitable. One common area of conflict involves medications and other medical decisions. Although some types of child custody put the power to make these decisions firmly in the hands of one parent, in other cases, parents each have the right to weigh in, and disagreements may arise. Your family attorney in Owings Mills can help you navigate these touchy issues when they occur. Here is a look at some of the common problems that happen regarding medication disputes in co-parenting agreements—and how you can overcome them. divorce - agreement

    Common Medication Disagreements

    In most cases, parents do not disagree about giving children medicine for acute illnesses, such as an antibiotic for bronchitis. Instead, parents may find they are not on the same page when it comes to managing chronic conditions, particularly ADHD or ADD. One parent may believe that the child needs to be on medication for attention deficit and/or hyperactivity, while the other parent doesn’t believe in giving children these kinds of medications. Other common areas of dispute are antidepressants or other medications for psychiatric conditions and vaccinations.

    Solutions for Medication Disputes

    Solving a medication dispute may be as easy as reviewing your child custody agreement. If one party has sole legal custody, then he or she has the exclusive right to make medical decisions for the children. If you have joint legal custody, then both parents must come to agreement on issues regarding medical decisions. If you can’t come to agreement, consult your family law attorney. He or she may recommend mediation, or in some cases, you may wish to return to court for a review of your custody agreement. Even if you haven’t experienced a dispute about medications or other aspects of medical care, it can be helpful to ask your family lawyer to include stipulations about how medical care will be addressed in your child custody agreement, so you can reduce the risk of future complications.

  • A Quick Look at Monitored Exchanges

    Depending on the type of child custody agreement you have, your divorce lawyer may recommend a monitored exchange when you and your ex-spouse bring your children back and forth to each other for visitation. If you have entered into a custody agreement that includes a stipulation for monitored exchanges or if you want to add a monitored exchange to your existing child custody case in Owings Mills, your divorce lawyer can help you understand what to expect.

    Monitored exchanges reduce the risk of conflict between parents when they have to face each other while sharing custody of their children by ensuring another party is present to witness the exchange. They can happen under the guidance of a family member or friend that both parties trust or at a court-appointed facility. Frequently, monitored exchanges are recommended to ensure that children and parents get to maintain their relationships, even when the relationship between the parents has become acrimonious. They allow the parents to focus on their time with their children instead of the stress of confronting an ex at the start and end of each visitation period.

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  • Should You Report Alimony on Your Tax Return?

    Filing taxes after a divorce can be complex, particularly if alimony payments are involved. Your divorce lawyer in Owning Mills can offer advice about filing your taxes after a divorce. This video addresses a common question that people have about alimony and taxes.

    Generally, alimony payments are taxable income for the recipient and deductible expenses for the person paying the alimony. If you are the person paying the alimony, you will need to include the Social Security number of your ex on your taxes so the IRS can determine where those payments are going. If you are unsure about how alimony and other aspects of your divorce may impact your taxes, ask your divorce lawyer for advice or a referral to a tax professional.