Wednesday Evening and Every Other Weekend

Child visitation schedules are very important to have when it comes to determining which parent has physical custody of a child at any given time. First you should familiarize yourself with the current family laws of the State of Maryland or contact an experienced family law attorney to determine your rights. The Maryland code, Court Rules and Case Laws are great places to start if you do not have an attorney.


The Maryland Court System does not have a preference for any specific parent or gender when making a determination on child custody. The Maryland Courts focus on the “best interests of the child standard” when making visitation and custody decisions.

The court takes into consideration many factors when determining custody and visitation arrangements such as the parents’ capacity to provide for the child, the living arrangements at the parent’s home and the parent’s ability to support the child.  The Maryland court will look at past instances of abuse or domestic violence in visitation and custody cases.  In some instances even grandparents and the children themselves can petition for visitation rights (See Post: Old Enough to Choose).

Creating a child visitation schedule can be hard to do during a time when emotions are high, especially during a divorce.  You don’t have to work with the other parent on coming up with a visitation schedule but it is in your child’s best interest to do so. Only the parents know the intricacies of their own schedules and an in-depth knowledge of their children’s needs.  It is best for the parents to make a determination without the courts when making a visitation schedule. Otherwise a judge (a complete stranger) will make these important decisions for the parents.

Setting aside your differences to create an effective visitation schedule is something that most parents do for the sake of their children. However, if you are unable to reconcile differences a court officer or mediator will make the decision for you based on the best interest of the child.  When making a visitation schedule try to think about all of the aspects of your child’s life from daily activities to special circumstances. If you make a schedule so that your child’s needs are met, then you will have a schedule that benefits your situation.

Even though Maryland doesn’t have a standard visitation schedule some counties have guidelines which can help you make a decision.  A common visitation schedule provides that the non-custodial parent who lives less than an hour away from the custodial parent can have the children every other weekend from 7 pm on Friday to 7 pm on Sunday.  Usually a visitation schedule will grant the non-custodial parent one evening during the week with the child as well. The residential visitation schedule should closely resemble the type of custody the parents have. The courts look at the current schedule of the parties to maintain the status quo.

In addition to the normal weekly visitation schedule parents should also consider holiday schedules and vacation schedules.

A holiday visitation schedule should include provisions for your child time to spend time with each of you on holidays and other special days. Many parents rotate the holidays, alternating them every year.  But for parents whose professions are in healthcare or retail, rotating holidays isn’t always an option as many of these parents often have to work on holidays or have limited time off during holidays.   Always create the holiday visitation schedule as you see fit, allow for exceptions and be flexible.

Remember other holidays and special days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, three day weekends such as Memorial and Labor Day, Fourth of July and any other special days you would like. Be sure to specify the times that the holiday visitation begins and ends in the schedule. The holiday schedule replaces the regular visitation schedule.

A visitation schedule should also permit your child to have extended time with each of you during school breaks and the parents’ personal vacation times. The vacation schedule can be less date specific, since the exact dates of personal vacation time may vary.  A work-at-home mom or a father who is a school teacher may have more flexibility in summer vacations than a parent who works in an office.  Visitation schedules can include instructions for out of state travel and guidelines for giving advanced notice to each parent about vacation times.

Lastly, you may want to create some rules that help you follow the visitation schedule.  For example how you’ll exchange the child for visitation, how you’ll make changes to the schedule, or how you’ll handle emergency events.  Basically, you just need to make sure that your custody schedule is in the best interest of the child. It is always best to work with an experienced divorce/family law attorney who can help you understand how custody, visitation, child support and other child related laws apply during your divorce.  With decades of experience in divorce law Maslan, Maslan & Rothwell can help you personalize a visitation schedule that works best for your situation.

Race to File for Custody

Do you have a child and recently ended a relationship with the other parent?
If so, then you have a custody problem. There is no custody order to enforce and you are in a gray area with custody rights only as strong as your current agreement with the other parent. It is strongly suggested that you do your best to work with the other parent to develop a parenting agreement to govern custody and visitation between both parents. But if you cannot agree with each other, one of you must file for custody in Maryland and seek protection from the courts to get a hearing to have a judge hear your case to grant you the custody arrangement you are looking for as well as much need child support to help pay your monthly expenses including health and child care issues.
The problem is that with no specific court order, the police will not get involved as there is no court order to enforce.
It is strongly recommended that you do your best to get along with the other parent as any custody fights may result in either parent withholding the child from the other parent and lead to distrust between both parents. This is never in the best interest of the child. This also may lead to each parent snatching the child from the other parent.
Contact an attorney or licensed mediator to attempt to work out a parenting plan.

Defining Alimony and Child Support

Going through a divorce is a challenging and emotional experience.

You’re dealing with a multitude of emotions that create stress. On top of this, the question of money looms like a storm cloud. While terms like spousal support, alimony and equitable distribution of property are commonplace in our society, the fact remains that not many people have a firm grasp on what they entail.

Before learning how spousal support and alimony are awarded, it’s a good idea to contact a divorce lawyer who can guide you through this process. In Baltimore, there are lawyers who are in solo practice, or part of a legal group or firm, that handle divorce proceedings.

Before you settle on a lawyer, do your research. There are a variety of websites that provide insight on individual lawyers, and you can also check with organizations such as the Baltimore County Bar Association or the Maryland State Bar Association. Don’t forget to ask for referrals when you’re interviewing a divorce lawyer.

Under Maryland Law, you must first look, at Family Law, § 11-106, Amount of award, duration. This section contains all of the factors that the Circuit Courts of Maryland consider when making a determination of whether to enter an alimony award and for how long. Maryland does not recognize spousal support like other states. In Maryland, you may request alimony pendent lite, (pending litigation). You may file for a limited divorce, after you have separated but have not been living separate and apart for more than a year. You may request a hearing on alimony prior to the grounds for divorce are litigated.
At this hearing, the courts consider the following factors:

In making the determination, the court shall consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including:

(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;

(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;

(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;

(4) the duration of the marriage;

(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(7) the age of each party;

(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;

(10) any agreement between the parties;

(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:

(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;

(ii) any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12) whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health-General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

Award for indefinite period

The court may award alimony for an indefinite period, if the court finds that:

(1) due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or

(2) even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.

The Maryland Courts favor rehabilitative alimony or short term alimony that will last for a period of years to allow a spouse to receive training or additional skills in which to achieve or start a career in which they can support themselves.

Unfortunately, there is no set formula in which attorneys or the spouses can use to predict the amount and duration of any alimony award. Alimony awards are fact specific and differ for most everyone.

When determining the division of your marital assets, the court looks at all of your property accumulated during the marriage. This would normally include real property (houses) pensions, cars, bank accounts and furniture. Essentially, virtually anything of value.

The marital estate may be examined by the court before determining how all of the assets will be divided. Remember that the court will base part of its decision on whether or not one spouse will be forced to liquidate assets in order to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Maryland attempts to divide the marital property fairly and evenly except in cases of large disparities of income. Maryland also only takes into consideration the net asset value of all marital property. If the spouses marital debt exceeds their asset value, then the courts will consider the spouses insolvent and not divide the marital debt.
Temporary spousal support (Alimony, Pendente Lite and child support are usually provided while a divorce case is pending. This ensures that a spouse who might not be employed, and any children, is receiving the proper amount of income and benefits while the other details of a divorce are being worked out.

Another route you may experience is for the court to order support be paid retroactive to the date the divorce complaint was filed. It’s best to confer with a divorce lawyer about a retroactive spousal support payment and how it may affect you. Alimony and child support are crucial parts to any divorce. A divorce lawyer is key in making sure you – and your children – receive the proper amount of compensation to continue to live the lives you were accustomed to.

While divorce isn’t an enjoyable experience, hiring a competent divorce attorney, and knowing what is rightfully yours in regard to alimony, can help ensure a future that is free of financial worry.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2012 at 3:57 pm and is filed under Baltimore City Lawyer Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Old Enough to Choose

Divorce is never an easy process. There are many issues to consider and stress to decide whether it is worth pursuing. There are many people involved including children, siblings, elder parents and family members who may be residing in the same household or may be required to help provide child care for children. The stakes are much higher when the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or visitation schedule especially when young children are involved.

When parents are considering a divorce, one of the first questions they have concerning children is, “What age can my child decide what parent he or she wants to live with?”

While on the surface it’s a simple question, the complexities of the answer will affect everyone involved.

In the case of a divorce, the court takes into consideration every possible factor, including the child’s preference for custody. However, it’s key to remember that the court’s main goal is the “overall best interest of the child.” And not the best wishes or intentions of the parents.

In many cases, the courts treat the minor children as too immature or incompetent to know what is in their best interest, which means the court does not recognize them when it comes to making decisions.

This means that there is no magic number or specific age when a minor can decide which parent to live with. Instead, it’s up to the judge or the court to decide the best course of action.

Remember that the courts and judges do not necessarily want to make these decisions because they don’t know every detail of a family’s dynamics. In addition, the court would want to leave this decision to the mother and father. Each case is fact specific and there is no magic formula. The judges make it clear to both parents to attempt to set aside any anger or animosity they have for one another and attempt to reach a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the minor children. This is very difficult. However, the court is quick to point out that is always in the parents best interest to decide compared to relying upon a complete stranger (the judge) to make a final decision that may not be in anyone’s best interest or work within the confines of either parties work schedules.

While there is no magic number, it’s correct to say that the older the child, the more impact he or she will have on the judge or the court. Forcing a child to remain in a situation where he or she clearly does not want to be is what the court is trying to avoid.

When making this kind of decision, the judge will review a wide range of criteria, some of which are listed here. As always, check with your lawyer when discussing this subject.

What is the environment like in each situation?
Is one parent or the other swaying the child?
Will the move negatively affect other family members?
Does the child show maturity and intellectual development?
How stable is the parent the child wants to be with?

Divorce is a complicated process, and when children are involved, the process becomes even more complex. The judge and the court are charged by the law to ensure that children receive the very best care and are raised in the correct environment.

Discuss the facts with your divorce lawyer, and don’t forget that custody of your children brings with it a great amount of commitment. In the end, the decision will have lasting effects on everyone involved.

New Child Support Guidelines

On October 1, 2010, the new child support guidelines went into effect.  The guideline amount that the custodial parent will receive has increased. This increase is not automatic. If you have a current child support order, this amount will not change unless it is modified by the court.   To modify an order, you must be able to prove there has been a material change in circumstances OTHER THAN the new law.  A material change is either an increase or decrease in either parent’s income or whether the number of over night visitation has changed significantly.