In Maryland, grandparents, a non-biologically related adult (third party) or non-adopted adult has an extremely uphill battle to guarantee any access to a minor child they may have a relationship with if the parent prohibits them. Even if prohibiting the relationship is not in the best interest of the child. If you are prohibited from seeing a minor child that you have a relationship with (grandchild, nephew, niece, godchild, or if you are in a same-sex marriage with children), there are 3 ways you can seek a court intervention:
Only on rare occasions does anyone besides attorneys win when going to court. Do not get me wrong, there are family law cases out there that really do not have a choice but to go to court (the most common is because one party is being so unreasonable that the other party should not settle).
Why You Should Consider A Settlement Agreement
Two things I see most often from my clients in custody related matters: 1. focusing on what’s happening RIGHT NOW and 2. dwelling on the negative actions by the other parent. If you’ve been in a custody battle, perhaps you have said one of these complaints:
“the kids didn’t call before bedtime when they are with the other parent”
“the other parent is not being flexible with the schedule for the children”
“the other parent is making all of the decisions regarding the children, and not communicating properly (either timely or at all)” and on and on.
In these instances, my advice is: give your ex enough rope to hang themselves. Combative exes are their own worst enemies. Give them the opportunity to hurt their own cause, and they will always take it.
When parents of minor children separate, it is difficult on everyone, especially children. When it comes to deciding custody, some parents want their children to testify in court. This can cause greater strain on the child’s well-being.
Before deciding to have your child or children testify in court, it’s important to know that the court system provides multiple services such as a custody evaluator (a license social worker who meets with the parties, the children, visits the homes, if in the county where the case is being held and provides the court with a report and recommendation). There is no charge for this service. The Court can also appoint a best interest attorney and/or privilege attorney (an attorney who advocates on behalf of what he or she believes is in the best interest of the children). The parties generally divide the cost equally or pro-rate their incomes for a best interest attorney or privilege attorney. There are factors the court considers when determining whether a case warrants either attorney. Best Interest attorneys can become very expensive.
Now that the dust has settled and you are officially no longer with the other parent, you should begin to plan how you can have a good partnership raising your child or children with the other parent in a way that benefits all parties involved, especially your children.
Here are 4 tips for raising children after separating:
1. Exhibit active listening, empathy, and patience when communicating with the other parent and your children.
This will give your children the chance to maintain some control. When parents’ divorce, children often feel out of control because they didn’t have a say or any options in the decision to divorce. It is important to stabilize your children first and make sure they feel they are truly loved and valuable members of your family. As such, any actions by you that enables them to feel understood and in control will help the children adjust to this new beginning. It will be beneficial for the child’s growth, development, and well-being.
2. Go to therapy separately and together.
You are all going through a very difficult time, one that can be especially challenging to manage on your own. Counseling can help you recognize the patterns in your life that made you gravitate to the other parent in the first place. This will help you understand and work to ensure that you don’t repeat those relationship patterns again. Separation is like a death and it must be both understood and grieved. I have a handful of great therapists in the Annapolis area. Each one of them provides a different insight and way of helping individuals through this difficult transition.
3. Act like an adult.
Separating from the other parent of your children can send otherwise perfectly calm, rational adults into fits of irrational, immature, childish behavior. This is the time your children need you to truly be an adult. Do not burden your children with your own fears and negative emotions towards the other parent and do not criticize the other parent. Your children identifies with both of his parents understanding that he is part of each of them. So to speak negatively about the other parent is to undermine the identity and security of your own children.
4. Be a Role Model.
Remember that at all times your children are watching. Teenagers, especially, may see your unhappiness and wonder if happy relationships are possible. This is your chance to show your children that although your relationship with the other parent has ended, your potential for happiness has not ended. And, when the time has come to start dating again, you have the opportunity to show them what a good, strong, happy relationship is like.
Separating from the other parent of your children is never an easy thing for anyone involved. It may be a challenging, emotional, and psychological journey for families to undergo, but during and after the divorce, this is the time to show your children how to be happy.
— it takes a lot of work and focused effort, but the benefits to you and your children are well worth it.
Despite feverish disputes over pet custody during divorce, courts consider pets property of a marriage rather than beings deserving of shared parenting time. According to a 2008 survey by the American Pet Products Association, 63 percent, or 71.1 million of U.S. households include pets – mostly dogs. Statistics also show that couples are having fewer children than in previous generations and spending more money on their pets ($58.51 billion a year according to a 2014 APPA survey).
But before you ask your attorney to run to court over your pet, know this: Maryland judges don’t like to rule on pets during divorce cases. All too often during custody discussions my clients will ask about parenting time with their dog in the same way other clients discuss parenting time with children. It’s hard enough to determine the best interests of children and maintain equitable distribution of time, resources and attention for human families – no matter how serious pet custody may be to you. If divorce is not hard enough already, pet-loving soon-to-be-ex spouses must find a way to work out the “who-gets-Fido” question without killing each other because the courts aren’t going to help.