Child custody is often a contentious part of many divorces. Even when there is a child custody order in place, disputes can crop up over visitation and the terms of the custody agreement.
Parents who cannot resolve custody disputes on their own will need to speak to a child custody attorney about how to best move forward to settle the disagreement; be it petitioning for primary custody, mediation, or modifying an existing order. For a consultation with a child custody attorney in Maryland, call the law firm of Hecht & Associates at 301-587-2099.
What Are Some Common Causes of Custody/Visitation Disputes?
Different circumstances can change and make visitation arrangements impractical, inconvenient, or obsolete. For example:
- One parent relocates to a distant location
- Parents’ jobs or work schedules change
- The child has a falling out with one parent and does not want to visit
- The child wants to spend more time with the non-custodial parent
- The parents cannot agree on education matters, e.g., one wants private education, the other homeschooling
- The child’s interests change, e.g., he or she wants to take up a sport that is only offered in the non-custodial parent’s district
- One parent’s health, mental, or financial status deteriorates
How Do We Resolve Custody and Visitation Disputes During a Divorce?
If the involved parents cannot come to an amicable agreement on their own, our team of child custody attorneys will work with our clients and opposing counsel to facilitate fair negotiations.
As your attorney, we will work on your behalf to reach a compromise with the other parent that is suitable for all parties and is in the best interests of the child. If we reach an agreement, our law office will then submit a new child custody and visitation plan to the court for approval.
However, if after going back and forth, the parties still cannot agree on visitation , you may go to mediation. Mediation is a process where a mediator (not a judge) tries to help the parents reach a resolution. Both parents, their child custody lawyers, and an unbiased third-party mediator participate in this process. Mediators can make suggestions and try to facilitate a compromise, but they do not make a final decision.
If mediation is successful, the mediator or attorneys can draft a new agreement and submit it for approval; if it is not, a judge will need to hear and decide the case in family court.
How Do You Modify an Existing Custody Order?
Parents can request modification of custody orders and the terms of visitation at any time, but only if there has been a “material change” in circumstances. In other words, there must be a significant change for the judge to consider altering the original decision. Examples include: one parent was arrested, developed a substance abuse problem, or was diagnosed with a health condition.
To modify an order, your attorney will have to draw up a new proposed parenting plan and gather evidence that supports the assertion of a material change. For example, if you do not want your child to live with their other parent because he or she is abusing alcohol, your attorney can present evidence such as DUI arrest records, witness testimonies, etc. The court will also consider your child’s input and wishes, particularly after the age of 12.
Similar to the initial custody hearing, the family law judge will then hear both sides of the story, weigh the facts, and make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.
Hecht & Associates Can Help with a Custody or Visitation Dispute
Our family law team at Hecht & Associates has the background, resources, and legal aptitude to take on even the toughest child custody and visitation disputes. Skilled at both negotiation and litigation, our law firm has helped numerous parents in Maryland and Washington, D.C. manage their custody issues and settle their disagreements.
Call our law office today at 301-587-2099 to arrange for a consultation with one of our family law attorneys who can assist you with your child custody case.