• Gathering Evidence for Your Child Custody Case

    Going through a divorce and establishing child custody requires a lot of preparation and paperwork. It can start to feel like a full-time job in itself, which is one of the many reasons why you should hire a child custody attorney near Owings Mills to do the heavy lifting for you. Your lawyer will guide you in collecting the evidence necessary to present a compelling argument in court.

    Parent-Child Contact

    If your child isn’t currently living with you, make an effort to contact your child frequently. Call or use video conferencing software to maintain your relationship with your child, and to help him or her cope with the significant changes of divorce. Each time you speak with your child, keep a record of the date, time, and duration. Make notes about whether the other parent attempted to discourage contact between you and your child. If your child is currently living with you, you can still keep a record of contact between your child and the other parent. If the other parent doesn’t have frequent contact, the judge might think that there isn’t much of a relationship between them. Alternatively, the judge might consider whether you are discouraging contact.

    Parent-Parent Contact

    Family court judges frown upon contentious interactions between parents when a child is a witness. Never provoke an argument, and never contribute to one. Instead, keep a record of all the times your ex disparages you in front of your child, shows an unwillingness to co-parent, or shows signs of mental or emotional instability.

    Visitation Logs

    Judges like to see that both parents are encouraging the child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent. If your child currently lives with you, you should support a robust visitation schedule with the other parent. If you’ve moved out of the family home, make every effort to see your child regularly. Both parents should keep records of when the visitation occurred, how long it lasted, and whether the visiting parent was late for the pick-up or drop-off. Additionally, make notes about whether the child was returned to you hungry, unhappy, or injured—or with homework incomplete.

  • 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.

    Family Attorney in Owings Mills, MDCommon 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 Spouse’s Guide to Cruelty and Vicious Conduct

    Maryland divorce law is quite restrictive, although a recent change in the rules relaxed the requirements for couples who do not share children and reach agreements on other matters. In nearly all other cases, spouses must live apart for 12 continuous months before they can be granted an absolute divorce, rather than a legal separation. An exception to this rule applies when a spouse has fault-based grounds for absolute divorce, such as cruelty and excessively vicious conduct. A family law attorney near Owings Mills can discuss your case with you and determine if a fault-based divorce is right for you. Family Law Attorney in Owing Mills, MD

    Physical Violence

    For a court to grant a divorce on the basis of cruelty, your spouse’s actions must be egregious to the extent that they could be said to significantly jeopardize your health or permanently eliminate your happiness. A court is more likely to determine that physical violence constitutes cruelty if the spouse engaged in a pattern of physical violence, has threatened physical violence, or has engaged in mental abuse. Divorce may be granted if this abuse was directed to either you or to a minor child. Acts of physical violence may include instances of marital rape.

    Mental Abuse

    Courts give mental abuse significant weight when considering whether to grant an absolute divorce for fault-based grounds. Generally, mental abuse must be egregious. For example, the use of profane language alone might not be sufficient to prove cruel treatment. However, the court might consider the use of profane or indecent language to belittle the spouse or otherwise compromise his or her self-respect. Other types of mental abuse include controlling behaviors like isolating the spouse from other family members and friends. Mental abuse can include taunting and making public, false accusations for the purpose of debasing the spouse.

    Evidence

    Proving cruelty and excessively vicious conduct in court requires the use of physical evidence or witness testimony. Your family lawyer can guide you in establishing proof, such as through the use of medical records, photographs of injuries, and written communications.

  • Will Remarriage Affect Your Child Support Payments?

    In most cases, getting married again after a divorce will not affect a parent’s obligation to pay child support or the right to receive it. Since divorce-related laws do vary from state to state, you should consult a family law attorney near Owings Mills for legal guidance for your specific situation. If you are the noncustodial parent who is paying child support, you should not expect to have the payments increased solely because you remarried. Child support law doesn’t confer responsibility for the children to the new spouse.

    If you are the custodial parent who is receiving support payments, you should continue to receive the same amount as before you remarried, regardless of whether your household now has two incomes. Some custodial parents who remarry consider canceling the child support agreement altogether. However, it’s still the noncustodial parent’s obligation to provide for the children’s needs. If child support payments aren’t needed for daily expenses, they could be contributed to a college savings fund instead.

  • What Are the Custody and Visitation Rights for Stepparents After a Divorce?

    Stepparents in general have an undeservedly bad reputation, despite the fact that many of them form strong emotional bonds with their stepchildren, and invest considerable time and effort taking care of them. When a stepparent and biological parent divorce, it’s usually thought that the stepparent has no parental rights. However, divorce law in Owings Mills has been slowly catching up to the modern reality of blended families. Since child custody laws are subject to change, stepparents are encouraged to visit an attorney for the latest information about their legal rights.

    Child Custody Lawer in Owings Mills, MD

    • Whether the child will suffer harm without visitation with the stepparent

    • The extent of assistance and financial aid provided by the stepparent for the child’s rearing

    • The duration of the stepparent’s parental role with the child

    • The degree to which the stepparent has held an active, significant role in the child’s daily life

    • The strength of the relationship between the child and the stepparent

    Award of Custody

    Divorce law presumes that it’s in the child’s best interests for the biological parent to retain custody, rather than the stepparent. However, there are some occasional exceptions. If both of the biological parents are found unfit to raise the child, the stepparent may be awarded custody. Parental fitness is determined on a case-by-case basis, but may be considered when any of the following factors apply:

    Of course, if both of the biological parents have died around the time of the divorce, then the stepparent will also be more likely to secure custody.

    Establishment of Visitation

    Although it’s challenging for a stepparent to get custody, he or she may be more likely to receive visitation. Visitation may be awarded if it’s determined to be in the child’s best interests. The court will consider whether an ongoing relationship with the stepparent will enhance the child’s quality of life.

  • Paying Taxes on Alimony and Child Support

    Divorce usually results in difficult financial situations, which your alimony lawyer in Owings Mills will help you sort through. You may also wish to consult an accountant when it’s time to file your tax return, instead of handling tax changes yourself. If you’re the parent with primary physical custody of the child, you’re entitled to receive child support. These payments do not have to be reported as income—you’ll receive them tax-free to defray the expenses of rearing your child. If you’re awarded alimony after the divorce , you will typically have to report these checks as income, and they’ll be subject to taxation.

    You might find yourself making alimony and child support payments after the divorce. In this case, your tax situation will be similar to that of your ex’s, only in reverse. You cannot deduct child support on your taxes in order to reduce your tax liability. However, you can usually deduct alimony payments, provided those payments are made in cash, rather than property. Additionally, alimony payments must be court-ordered if they are deducted.

    Paying Taxes on Alimony and Child Support in Owings Mills, MD

  • Tips for Parents from Children of Divorce

    Arguably, divorce is more difficult for the children than for the parents. When you make an appointment with a family law attorney near Owings Mills, take the time to also schedule a consult with a family therapist. Even if the children don’t go to the therapist with you, he or she can help you learn how to protect your kids from the most harmful aspects of divorce. Additionally, consider divorce mediation, which may help both parents co-parent more effectively.

    When you watch this video, you’ll hear directly from some children of divorce. They explain what they wish their parents knew when they were getting divorced. Some of their recommendations include: Never argue in front of the kids, never ask the children to pass messages between parents, and never use the children as leverage against the other parent.

  • What Are the Custody and Visitation Rights for Stepparents After a Divorce?

    Stepparents in general have an undeservedly bad reputation, despite the fact that many of them form strong emotional bonds with their stepchildren, and invest considerable time and effort taking care of them. When a stepparent and biological parent divorce, it’s usually thought that the stepparent has no parental rights. However, divorce law in Owings Mills has been slowly catching up to the modern reality of blended families. Since child custody laws are subject to change, stepparents are encouraged to visit an attorney for the latest information about their legal rights. child - divorce

    Determination of Standing

    A divorce attorney will first determine whether the stepparent has the right to have an issue heard by the court. This is known as standing. A court may decide to hear a stepparent’s case if visitation could be in the child’s best interests. The following factors may apply to the determination of standing:

    • Whether the child will suffer harm without visitation with the stepparent
    • The extent of assistance and financial aid provided by the stepparent for the child’s rearing
    • The duration of the stepparent’s parental role with the child
    • The degree to which the stepparent has held an active, significant role in the child’s daily life
    • The strength of the relationship between the child and the stepparent

    Award of Custody

    Divorce law presumes that it’s in the child’s best interests for the biological parent to retain custody, rather than the stepparent. However, there are some occasional exceptions. If both of the biological parents are found unfit to raise the child, the stepparent may be awarded custody. Parental fitness is determined on a case-by-case basis, but may be considered when any of the following factors apply:

    • Incarceration
    • Abandonment
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Other form of domestic violence
    • Substance abuse
    • Severe psychiatric illness

    Of course, if both of the biological parents have died around the time of the divorce, then the stepparent will also be more likely to secure custody.

    Establishment of Visitation

    Although it’s challenging for a stepparent to get custody, he or she may be more likely to receive visitation. Visitation may be awarded if it’s determined to be in the child’s best interests. The court will consider whether an ongoing relationship with the stepparent will enhance the child’s quality of life.

  • When Can a Custodial Parent Relocate?

    Unless the other parent has been denied visitation rights because of domestic violence, it’s rarely an ideal situation for the custodial parent to move far away with the child. Children need ongoing, strong relationships with each parent for their healthy development and mental health. Before considering a long-distance move away from the noncustodial parent, custodial parents should speak with a child custody lawyer in Owings Mills. Noncustodial parents who have been advised of a possible relocation should also talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Child Custody in Owings Mills

    Providing Notice of the Relocation

    Custodial parents who wish to relocate must have their attorneys provide a written notice at least 90 days before the scheduled move. The notice must be filed with the family court, and delivered via certified mail, return receipt requested to the noncustodial parent. Under certain circumstances, it may be acceptable for the relocating parent to file the notice less than 90 days before moving, as long as the parent does so as quickly as possible and the move is necessary (i.e., for financial reasons).

    Agreeing to the Relocation

    Maryland child custody laws require relocating parents to provide notice regardless of whether the move will be within the state or across state lines. It’s possible that the noncustodial parent won’t object to the relocation if the distance isn’t considerable. If the noncustodial parent does agree to the relocation request, both parents can file their written agreement terms with the court.

    Objecting to the Relocation

    It’s common for noncustodial parents to object to long-distance relocations. They must do so within 20 days of receiving the notice. Their attorneys must file a petition that asks the court to block the relocation. Then, the court sets an expedited hearing date. It’s wise to have legal representation at this hearing.

    Issuing a Court Ruling

    During the hearing, the court will consider any available evidence, including testimony from both parents, before making a decision. Judges have broad discretion in deciding whether to allow relocations. The overriding concern is whether the move would be in the child’s best interests.

  • Tips for Estimating Your Child Support Payments

     

    A child support attorney serving the Owings Mills area can estimate how much you can expect to pay, based on the state’s guidelines and your family’s finances. Unlike child custody, there is a set formula that divorce judges follow to determine a fair child support payment .

    When you watch this video, you’ll learn that this formula relies on both parents’ income, household expenses, and the child’s financial needs. You’ll be asked to fill out a detailed financial statement, and your ex-spouse will do the same. Your attorney will adjust your net income based on whether you pay or receive alimony. If you already pay child support for children from a different relationship, these payments will be taken into consideration. Additionally, the courts may consider the family’s standard of living prior to the divorce.