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I'm looking to get information about settling a child

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Hi I'm looking to get information about settling a child custody dispute in Maryland?

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in MD family court?

No, we were a non-married lesbian couple who each birthed a child via artificial insemination then legally adopted each other's child in Maryland. When we separated we wrote our own agreement. Now it appears we need to have a more legally binding agreement as the other parent is withholding one of the children.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?

No

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I was planning to take the child out of state Tuesday (with agreement); however, that agreement has been since rescinded. Do I have the right to take the child out of state at this point?

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Answered in 12 minutes by:
3/25/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10,429
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

Generally, the law requires that parents who are the natural or adoptive parents of a child have the right to take a child wherever they would like, so long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of the other parent. In your case, you could take the child out of state, but if it interferes with the other parent's rights to see the child, then the other parent could get a court order to have the child returned. It's also possible they could call the police and claim that you are abducting the child as well. Neither of those are good situations.

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It sounds like because you two are both the parents under the law, you need a custody order.

Custody, visitation, and child support are always difficult issues to sort out, but thankfully the courts are there to help settle the score on the issue. If you are looking to modify custody, visitation, or child support, you’ll have to go through the court system. It typically starts with filing a petition, which is just a request through the courts to get a change in one of those things. Once you fill out the petition, you should make three copies: one to you, one for the court, and one to the other party. It is critical to understand that the courts are bound to look at what is in the best interests of the child above all else. This means they will look into who and how the child’s health, education, welfare, and safety are best going to be served. Sometimes, this can be inconvenient for one parent, but because the kids cannot protect themselves, the court takes it upon itself to protect them. The bright side is that if you understand this in advance, then you will have an edge when you are dealing with the other side because you’ll be seeing this process through the court’s eyes.

Regardless, once you have filed the documents, someone who is over 18 and not a party to the case will serve the document on the other party. They will have a chance to respond to the petition and they will serve you as well. The court will likely set a date where they will either order mediation or they will make a decision at that time. If you can’t agree at mediation or if the court decides it needs more info, then it is likely you would go to a trial where you can put on witnesses, provide your own testimony, and let the judge make a ruling after that. Those are less likely scenarios, but they come up on occasion.

The order is enforceable from the moment it is entered and if a party fails to abide by the order, then they are going to be held in contempt of court.

What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you for all of the information. Couple other questions: 1) I did plan to take the child out of state but only for a period of 6 days. Would I still need to worry about her claiming I'm abducting the child as this does not violate her right to see our daughter by any means? 2) In the event we must go to court to resolve this custody, how much is hearsay considered? For instance, in our case my ex is concerned that I don't necessarily live my life like she does so she tries to make it out that I'm unsafe for the children. An example of this is "I shouldn't let them use the TV remote" or "I should never have a drink in front of them"
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
34;hearsay" may be the wrong word in that instance

You're welcome. Let me answer your follow up questions...

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1. I don't think an abduction charge would be appropriate since it is less than one week. This is more for permanent moves.

2. In the event you go to court, hearsay is not allowed; however, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule (many exceptions) that allow statements to come in. In what you're describing, it's not hearsay, but it would just be their testimony as to why they think you shouldn't have custody. Hearsay is when you're telling the court what you heard someone else say that is not the other party.

Did you have any other questions for me today that I could help you with?

Legal Eagle
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
That is fine. Another question, if my ex is trying to state that I allow the child to watch TV that she shouldn't watch, how in the world could that be proved in court? I guess I'm trying to understand what I need to do in advance to protect myself and the kids.
Joycelaw
Joycelaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 114
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I think it would be very difficult for her to prove something like that in court. Usually, the best thing to do is just consider all of the things concerning the child's health, welfare, and education that you do positively and how the child being with you is going to impact each of those. For things like watching too much television, perhaps you could write down how much television they actually watch and the nature of the programs to refute anything that may be brought up. It's hard to perfectly predict everything that they may say to get custody, but generally, the best thing you could do is just respond with the truth, but also show why you're a good parent.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks again. You've resolved a lot of my anxiety.

It's my pleasure!

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