When it comes to determining custody, as part of a divorce or for other reasons, generally, the parties involved still have one thing in common—wanting what’s best for the child. However, agreeing on what that is can be difficult.
Whether through family mediation or leaving it up to the court, child custody discussions are usually challenging and emotionally fueled. Having a top custody lawyer with extensive mediation experience at your side can lessen the stress of this difficult time. Someone who knows the intricacies of the law, but also the nuances of family negotiation, can help you reach an optimal custody outcome.
With over thirty years of practicing law and extensive experience with mediation and arbitration, Attorney Steve Shapiro leads the team at Resolution Matters. Their focus is bringing people together to reach acceptable agreements, resolving client issues in the most comprehensive and cost-effective ways.
If you’re considering filing a custody lawsuit or have already reached a roadblock in your custody discussions, contact Resolution Matters for further details on their resolution-focused custody services.
Custody Agreements In Maryland
Barring any evidence to the contrary, the State of Maryland presumes it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to remain in the custody of their natural parents. After appearing for your initial hearing, the court will expect you to work collaboratively to develop a parenting plan.
According to the Maryland Courts, a parenting plan is a way of providing insight into the family dynamic, by providing a roadmap to the court of how the parents navigate conflict regarding the raising of their child(ren). Working with the assistance of a skilled custody family lawyer and mediator smooths the process of developing this plan when emotions are high and, perhaps, patience is short.
Maryland recognizes several different types of custody, mainly focused around physical and legal custody:
Physical custody determines the amount of time a child is with a parent.
Legal custody determines the power to make decisions for the child regarding education, health care, religion, and the overall welfare of the child.
If the involved parties cannot agree on a parenting plan, a joint statement must be provided to the court. This statement will educate the court on the areas the parents do agree, as well as identify the roadblocks to reaching an agreement. Working with a skilled custody law firm in drafting this document will help ensure the court has the necessary information to make custody decisions that are in the best interest of the child.
Building A Parenting Plan
Even when working with the best child custody lawyer, it is not often the court awards the exact custody arrangement you wish for. The court has only just met you to review your case. Parents working collaboratively to draft a parenting plan is the best way to ensure the court orders a custody agreement that works for everyone involved.
Working with a family mediator can ease this process. There are important factors each family must consider when establishing an effective parenting plan.
- Maintaining important relationships for the child(ren).
- Maintaining or establishing stability.
- Child(ren)’s current and future education, welfare, and health needs.
- Parent’s ability to share the responsibility of raising the child(ren).
- Providing a physically and emotionally safe environment for the child(ren).
- Meeting the day-to-day needs of the child(ren), including food, housing, and clothing, as well as education, socialization, culture, and religion.
- Age(s) of the child(ren).
- Location where each parent will reside.
- Pertinent scheduling needs.
- Child preference (when appropriate).
In developing a strong parenting plan, you must also consider how you co-parent. This includes co-parenting in the past and how you foresee doing so in the future. Children tend to keep families tied, even when parents live apart. To build an effective parenting plan, knowing your capacity to work together to solve issues as they arise is a key consideration.
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