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Having a child is life-changing. It can transform the ways in which we balance our priorities and the relationships in our lives. The separation or the divorce from a partner or spouse however, can upset that balance for both the parents and the child.
Few things are more difficult and stressful than navigating through a challenging custody dispute. Educating oneself about factors considered by the court in awarding custody can help alleviate some of the anxiety. In Maryland for instance, the court considers the following factors in making a custody determination:
- 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
There is no one-size-fits-all in a custody case as some factors are weightier than others depending on the facts. Certainly, the court may consider many other factors as well. The court however, considers all factors against the backdrop of what is in the child’s best interest.
Having a child testify in court about custody preferences is generally a prohibited and discouraged practice as the experience can be damaging to the child. There are however, other ways to share the child’s viewpoints. In appropriate circumstances, the court will appoint a Best Interest Attorney to advocate for the child’s interests. The court can also order a neutral custody evaluator to make recommendations regarding custody determinations after conducting an evaluation of the child’s home life and relationship with the parents.
Additionally, experts can be key to shedding light into the child’s perspective, particularly if understanding what is in the child’s best interest is not immediately apparent. The attorneys of Grover & Badalian effectively utilize various expert witnesses to investigate possible emotional manipulation and abuse of the child by a parent, disruptions to the child’s mental and emotional health, and the child’s home environment and familial and non-familial influences.
Parents embroiled in a high-conflict custody battle often disagree with what is in their child’s best interests. As the parent, you know what is in your child’s best interest. At Grover & Badalian, we can help you convey these views to the court.