Work With An Experienced Attorney to Seek Legal Custody in Maryland
As a concerned and loving parent, you may gravitate towards seeking legal custody of your child or children during or after a Maryland divorce due to the significant rights and responsibilities it entails. Legal custody, as defined by the Maryland Courts, relates to the right and obligation to make long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing, including decisions about education, religious training, discipline, medical care, and other important concerns. An experienced Maryland legal custody attorney can provide necessary support and representation in pursuit of your child’s best interests.
Legal custody is distinct from physical custody, which involves the right to have the child live with you. Often, courts will award joint legal custody, allowing both parents to share these decisions.
The pursuit of legal custody is crucial because it enables the parent to shape the child’s future significantly. It allows the parent to ensure that their child’s well-being aligns with their values and beliefs. Navigating the legal process can be complex and challenging, particularly in the midst of a divorce.
Our founding lead attorney, Ellen L. Lee, has over three decades of experience in addressing the legal custody concerns of families in Montgomery County, Maryland. Contact us at the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, LLC today to schedule a consultation in which we will explore your next steps in regards to seeking or retaining legal custody of your children.
Understanding Your Decision-Making Responsibilities When You Have Legal Custody in Maryland
A parent with legal custody in Maryland bears the following responsibilities for their children:
- Decision-Making: The parent has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions may encompass areas such as the child’s education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Maryland Law stipulates that the parent can determine what school the child attends, what religion they are raised in, and make decisions concerning their medical treatments.
- Physical Well-being: The parent is responsible for providing a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment. This equally involves providing for the child’s basic physical needs such as food, shelter, and clothing.
- Emotional Support: Parents with legal custody are obliged to support their child emotionally. This includes fostering an emotionally-healthy environment and providing comfort, encouragement, and guidance to the child.
- Discipline: The parent has the responsibility to discipline the child in appropriate and constructive ways. They should set rules and consequences for the child’s behavior.
- Financial Security: The parent is charged with ensuring the child’s financial needs are met. This includes providing for their education, health care, and other necessary expenses. Legal custody also involves managing any assets that the child may own, according to Maryland’s Child Support Guidelines.
These responsibilities ensure that the child’s interests are served at all times.
Factors and Considerations When Determining Legal Custody in Maryland
When determining legal custody in Maryland, a judge will consider various factors, all aimed at serving the child’s best interest in the custody arrangement.
The court will assess each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical, emotional, moral, and educational needs, examining several considerations:
- The parents’ financial capacities
- The parents’ mental health
- The parents’ physical health
- The parents’ willingness to share custody
- The proximity of the parents’ homes
- Potential disruption of the child’s social and school life
The court also gives due consideration to the child’s age, sex, and preferences. It should be noted that no single factor is determinant; the court considers each situation holistically before issuing the child custody order. A Maryland family law attorney experienced in child custody cases can assess your situation to guide you when seeking a custody agreement with the other parent that is in line with your physical and legal custody goals.
Distinguishing Types of Legal Custody
A Maryland court will ultimately have to determine whether the child custody arrangement meets the best interests of your shared minor child. The child custody order will affect visitation rights in addition to physical and legal custody.
The use of “joint custody” or “sole custody” can be confusing when not specifying whether one is referring to legal custody or physical custody. Regardless of whether you and the other parent have joint physical custody, sole physical custody, split custody, or another shared physical custody arrangement, the possibilities for legal custody are the following:
- Joint legal custody, in which both parents have rights and responsibilities to take part in making important decisions impacting the minor child’s life
- Sole legal custody, in which one parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions on behalf of the minor child, while the other parent has no such rights or responsibilities
- Extreme circumstances in which the court determines that the best interests of the child would be served by allowing neither parent to have legal custody of the child
Your Maryland child custody attorney can help you review the relevant factors in your case to ascertain whether you should seek a child custody arrangement including sole legal custody or joint legal custody. Like other child custody decisions in Maryland, the question of joint versus sole legal custody for a Maryland custody order will be made according to the best interest of the child. As custody and visitation are closely connected, the visitation arrangement will depend on the details of the custody order. The court’s decision can also have significant bearing on child support determinations.
The Child’s Needs and Best Interests Come First in Legal Custody Cases
In Maryland, the child’s best interests are paramount in any legal custody deliberations. This principle is firmly entrenched in Maryland’s laws, which mandate the court to prioritize the child’s welfare above all else in these matters. The various crucial aspects of the child’s needs and interests are considered, including their relationships with each parent.
The court may take the child’s own preferences into account, particularly if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a rational judgment. Ultimately, every decision made by the court is guided by what will promote the child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood.
Understanding Your Legal Custody Modification Options in Maryland
Perhaps only the other parent currently has legal custody — or perhaps there is a reason the other parent may not be fit to make important decisions on behalf of your shared child. In Maryland, a parent can request a modification to the existing legal custody arrangement if they can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interests of the child.
The courts maintain a preference for stability and continuity in custody arrangements, so you and your custody attorney will bear the burden of proof to show the court why a modification is necessary if you are the parent requesting the change.
Some examples of a significant change in circumstances include relocation, changes in the child’s needs, or changes in the parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs. Each legal custody situation is unique, and we are prepared to help you assess the right strategy to serve your child’s interests.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Legal Custody with Ellen L. Lee, a Family Law Attorney with Over 35 Years of Experience in Montgomery County, Maryland
With an extensive background spanning more than thirty years, Ellen L. Lee provides compassionate support to individuals and families navigating the complexities of divorce and related matters. By fostering a welcoming and accessible environment, she encourages open communication regarding goals and concerns — empowering her clients to embrace new beginnings and overcome the challenges they face. Both legal and physical custody carry significant emotions along with the associated rights and responsibilities.
We recognize that each client we support is unique, as is the right child custody arrangement for your child. We put in great effort to understand the intricacies of your circumstances, concerns, and objectives at a personal level. We diligently advocate for your best interests throughout every step of your Maryland legal custody case.
Schedule a private consultation with our founding attorney at the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee to review the details of your legal custody issue and strategize your next steps. Call (301) 279-0692 or fill out our online form.
We are prepared to conduct the initial information-gathering session with you either at our boutique office in Rockville, Maryland, through a video conference, or over the phone. We provide flexible scheduling options to meet your needs, including evening and weekend appointments. We are here to assist you.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee
Ellen L. Lee has devoted over 35 years of unwavering commitment to aiding individuals and families in Montgomery County, Maryland with their family law needs. Grounded in counseling and psychology, she provides personalized guidance and assistance to her clients in an inviting atmosphere — prioritizing effective communication while forging new beginnings amidst family law disputes.
- Tenacious & Compassionate Legal Support
- Trusted Guidance that Exceeds Expectations
- Full Range of Family Law Services
- Flexible Consultation Times: Nights and Weekends are Available
- Over 35 Years of Experience Practicing Family Law in Montgomery County, Maryland
Our Founding Attorney conveniently meets with clients via phone, video conference, or in person at our office in Rockville, Maryland.