At Lebovitz Law, we work with plaintiffs every day who are working through the child custody modification process. Recently in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, we assisted a father in retaining custody of his child and preventing the mother from taking custody and moving the child out of state.
Change of Custody Cases in Maryland
Child custody arrangements are very difficult to modify unless there is a significant material change in circumstances. Even if a material change in circumstances can be demonstrated, the parent must then prove that a custody modification is in the best interest of the child.
In our recent Baltimore City child custody case, the Court found that a move out of state would be a detriment to the child and that the mother’s motives for the move were not in the child’s interest. The Court also determined that equal access would not be possible if the mother moved out of state, so the original 50/50 physical custody schedule was upheld.
Montgomery County Department of Social Services, et al. vs. Sanders
This seminal case from 1978 informs many child custody cases in Maryland. The case established ten factors that should be considered when determining what is in the best interest of a child:
Fitness of each parent
Character and reputation of the parents
Desire of the natural parents and agreement between parties
Potentiality of maintaining family relations
Material opportunities affecting the child’s life
Age, health and sex of the child
Residences of each parent and potential for visitation
Length of separation from the natural parents
Prior voluntary abandonment
In deciding the verdict for the Baltimore City case, the judge specifically cited the ruling and determined that, while neither parent was unfit, a relocation would radically change the potential for visitation.
Taylor vs. Taylor
Another case that informs joint custody decisions is Taylor v. Taylor, a ruling from Maryland in 1986. The factors, with the first given the most weight, are as follows:
Capacity of the Parents to Communicate and to Reach Shared Decisions Affecting the Child's Welfare
Willingness of Parents to Share Custody
Fitness of Parents
Relationship Established Between the Child and Each Parent
Preference of the Child
Potential Disruption of Child's Social and School Life
Geographic Proximity of Parental Homes
Demands of Parental Employment
Age and Number of Children
Sincerity of Parents' Request
Financial Status of the Parents
Impact on State or Federal Assistance
The Importance of a Skilled Child Custody Lawyer
Past Maryland decisions make it clear that there is a high burden of proof in establishing a material change in circumstances. A skilled child custody lawyer will develop and present your case in the most compelling manner possible to increase your chances of an updated arrangement. In the McMahon v. Piazze ruling in 2005, the Court denied modification based on the child aging and interacting with new people around the home. In the Schaefer v. Cusak ruling, the Court also established that a change in the child’s age and education are not sufficient enough to warrant a change. Even in relocation cases, a modification can be difficult to obtain. The successful custody modification found in the recent Lebovitz Law case shows that a skilled lawyer on your side makes all of the difference. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.