Mothers sometimes stay in marriages they may be better off leaving because they are afraid of losing time with their children. However, a skilled family attorney from Carmiece Graves Law Firm could provide invaluable assistance during this challenging time by advocating tirelessly for your rights as a parent.

When considering a divorce or separation, consult an Upper Marlboro mother’s rights lawyer. A legal professional could help you navigate the separation while preserving your rights and protecting your children.

Children’s Best Interests Drive Custody Decisions

When parents decide to live apart, two types of custody must be resolved. Residential or physical custody refers to where the children live most of the time. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions about the children’s welfare.

Maryland Family Law § 5-203(d) gives both parents equal custody rights. It does not presume that mothers are better equipped to be parents or vice versa. When a judge decides custody arrangements, they consider the best interests of the children, including factors like each parent’s:

  • Mental and physical health;
  • Capacity to provide a stable home;
  • Experience serving as the children’s primary caregiver;
  • History of concerning conduct, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or abandonment;
  • Ability to address the children’s individual emotional, physical, and educational needs;
  • Willingness and capacity to support the children’s family relationships, including with the other parent.

An attorney in Upper Marlboro could help a mother craft a persuasive argument showing that awarding custody to the mother best serves the children. Judges also must hear the children’s preferences if they are old enough to express them and can make a reasoned decision. However, the children’s opinions are just one factor the judge must consider, as children do not have the right to determine which parent they live with.

Sole Custody Is Possible In Some Cases

Sometimes, mothers want to limit the contact the children’s father has with their children. They might seek sole physical and legal custody in that case. The law generally supports both parents having substantial time with the children and the opportunity to develop a close and meaningful relationship with them. However, in an appropriate case, a judge would consider awarding sole custody to the mother.

A mother seeking sole custody over a father’s objection must demonstrate that the father cannot provide children with a safe or appropriate environment. A Largo attorney representing a mother must present evidence supporting this rationale, such as the father’s active substance abuse issues, criminal activity, unaddressed mental health problems, or recent history of abuse toward a domestic partner or a child. Proving that the father’s home is not a healthy environment for children by showing it is unsanitary, in a dangerous area, or other occupants are unsavory could also persuade a judge to award sole residential custody to a mother.

Visitation Is Almost Always Awarded

Even when a court denies a father shared residential custody, it almost always awards the father the right to visitation. When a mother is concerned that the children would be at physical or emotional risk if they are alone with the father, the mother could ask for supervised visitation. If the court awards supervised visitation, another responsible adult would be present at the visits to monitor the father’s conduct and ensure the children’s safety.

Negotiated Settlements Keep Power In Your Hands

Mothers who are concerned about the father’s presence in their children’s lives often want to fight for sole custody. It might seem counterintuitive, but a negotiated child custody agreement often gives the mother a better chance of achieving her custody goals. The law supports both parents’ involvement with the children to the extent practicable. Judges are reluctant to limit a father’s ability to be an involved parent. However, courts usually accept custody arrangements in which parents negotiate themselves and agree to whether the arrangement is in the children’s best interests.

Mothers are wise to negotiate a custody arrangement with the help of an attorney in Upper Marlboro because they can often secure more time with the children than a court might award if the judge decides custody. A mother could negotiate directly with the father, the couple could work with a mediator, or the parents’ legal representatives could negotiate with each other. When the parents have agreed on a parenting plan, they submit it to the court for the judge’s review, and the court will issue the plan as an enforceable custody order.

Protect Your Rights With An Upper Marlboro Attorney’s Assistance

Your role as a parent is precious, and you may be concerned that your children’s father will seek to diminish it. Work with a legal professional committed to protecting your rights and maintaining a continued close relationship with your children.

An Upper Marlboro mother’s rights lawyer could help you achieve a parenting arrangement that meets your goals. Reach out to Carmiece Graves Law today to get started.