When parents in Maryland get divorced, one of the most important questions to them is whether they will be able to enjoy spending time with their children as much as they did during the marriage. While every divorce and child custody arrangement is different, many parents will be pleased to know that unless there is a very good reason for prohibiting time with their children, such as abuse or substance addiction, then parents are still entitled to reasonable parenting time and visitation with their children.
In most Maryland divorce cases, divorcing parents are required to attend mediation, in which both parents attend a negotiation and brainstorming session in order to try to reach an agreement as to the child custody arrangement. Mediation is helpful because it allows both parents the opportunity to express their wishes for the child custody and visitation arrangement. In a custody dispute, oftentimes nobody wins, so the objective of mediation is to help parents find common ground and work to build a schedule and parenting plan that fits the needs of the parents and most importantly, is also in the best interests of the child.
Mediation is a great starting point, but unfortunately many divorcing parents are not able to reach agreement on every aspect of the child custody arrangement, and further steps may be necessary. The next step is a pre-trial conference in which the judge or another court official works with the parents to identify issues of dispute and reach a settlement. If the pre-trial conference is unsuccessful in leading to a settlement, then a trial to determine child custody is the next step.
The guidance of an experienced family law attorney can help Maryland parents through the various stages of the process to work towards a child custody arrangement that meets their needs.
Source: Maryland Courts, “Child Custody and Visitation,” accessed on Sept. 28, 2014