How To File For Joint Custody In Maryland?


How To File For Joint Custody In Maryland
If you are a resident of Maryland and wish to obtain custody of your children but are not sure where to start, rest assured. The courts have done their best to make filing for custody in Maryland a relatively simple matter.

  1. 1 Determine if Maryland Courts have jurisdiction for a custody case. Jurisdiction for a child custody decision lies in the state where the child resides. If a parent has recently removed the child from the state of Maryland, and the parties were married or divorced in Maryland, the state’s Courts retain jurisdiction, as long as the parent who removed the children from the state can be located and notified of the custody action.
  2. 2 Determine which court should hear your custody action. If you already have a custody order you should file for custody in the court that issued the order. If you do not already have a custody order, you should file in the county court in the county where the child resides or last resided.
  3. 3 Decide if you will file alone or if your children’s other parent will join in the action. Talk to your children’s other parent, and if you can come to an agreement on custody, filing together can make the process go much more quickly. However, if you find that cannot come to an agreement, you may want to file alone.
  1. 1 Obtain the proper custody form. The Maryland Courts provide free forms for divorce, an establishment of custody, and modification of custody. You may download the forms by visiting the Court’s Family Law Forms section at,
    • A complaint for custody may be used by either parent, or a third party, in order to request a custody order where one has not yet been issued in a divorce or establishment of paternity.
    • A parent or third party who wishes to modify the current custody order should use the Petition to Modify Custody form.
    • A parent who has minor children and wishes to divorce the child(ren)’s other parent, may ask for custody in their Complaint for Absolute Divorce
    • A limited divorce, or legal separation, may be sought by parties who are unsure if they want to divorce. It allows the parties to begin living separately and dividing property, while remaining married, in case their differences cannot be resolved. The Court may decide issues such as custody and child support during a limited divorce or the parties can agree on such issues and file their written agreement with the Court.
  2. 2 Obtain other forms, as necessary. Besides the Petition for custody or divorce, a party filing a lawsuit for custody may also need to file other forms, such as a/an:
    • Financial Statement. Divorcing parties will likely need to fill out the long form Financial Statement] If you are unsure if you need to file a form, you can ask the Clerk.
    • Domestic Case Information Report. This should be filed with each petition for divorce or to establish or modify custody.
    • Child Support Guideline Worksheets. If you are asking for sole physical custody, you may need to complete Child Support Guideline Worksheet A, and if you are asking for shared physical custody, Child Support Guideline Worksheet B.
    • Certificate or Affidavit of Service. This simply states that you served your spouse with the require documents.
    • Request for Hearing or Proceeding. If you are filing your custody action alone and the child’s other parent does not agree with you on all issues, you may need to schedule a hearing by filing a Request for Hearing or Proceeding.
  3. 3 Complete your forms. When completing your forms, type or print neatly in blue or black ink. You can find instruction for most custody and family law forms on the, under ‘Instructions’. If you need help, the Clerk of Courts in the County where you will file your suit may be able to provide you with a limited amount of assistance. However, some questions may be considered asking for legal advice, and the Clerk will not be able to answer those questions. If you need assistance that the Clerk of Courts cannot provide, check your county Court’s website for free and low-cost legal aid. You can locate your Court’s website at
  4. 4 Prepare your forms for filing. Once complete, you will need to prepare your forms for filing with the Court. To do this:
    • Print and sign all appropriate forms. Some forms, like the Certificate or Affidavit of Service, cannot be signed or mailed until after you have filed for custody and served your child’s other parent a copy of the Complaint or Petition. If you are unsure when to file a specific form, read the instructions, and/or ask the Clerk when the Court will need it.
    • Call the Clerk of Courts in the county where you will file, and ask how many copies of each form they need, what your filing fee will be, and what forms of payment are accepted.
    • Make the appropriate number of copies. If you do not have a copy machine, check with your local library and/or post office for copy services. Most libraries will make copies for between $.10 and $.25 a page.
    • Staple together any forms that are more than one page long. Be sure not to staple two different forms together. Each form should have a case caption at the top of the first page. The case caption is the part that lists the state, county, and court, the parties, and states the case or cause number.
  5. 5 File your forms. Take your prepared forms and filing fee to the County Clerk’s Office for filing with the Court. The fee will be at least $300; if you cannot afford that, then ask the judge for a waiver. The Clerk will assist you with stamping your forms and filing them. Be sure that you get a stamped copy of each form that you file, so you have a record of what was filed and when.
  6. 6 Serve your children’s other parent. After filing you forms with the Court, you will need to make sure that your child’s other parent, or his or her attorney, gets a copy of each form that you filed. You can do this by mailing the copies via Certified Mail or by hiring the county Sheriff or a process server to serve the copies personally. If you are having trouble locating the other parent, then check out the information at Serve-Court-Papers for more details.
You might be interested:  How Far Is Indiana From Maryland?

Ask a Question 200 characters left Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Submit

If your child’s other parent is not in agreement with you on custody, and/or may attempt to avoid service, you should have the Sheriff’s Department serve him or her. This can help you avoid problems later, if he or she claims to have been unaware of your lawsuit or desire to have custody of the child. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

You should never sign anything that may affect your legal or financial rights or obligations without first consulting with a licensed attorney. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 67,087 times.

How does joint custody work in Maryland?

Types of Court Ordered Custody and Definitions – De facto Custody – De facto custody refers to who actually has custody of the child before the court is involved. ” De facto ” means “in fact.” Emergency Custody – If you believe there is an imminent risk of substantial and immediate harm to you and/or your minor child, you may wish to consider a request for emergency relief.

  1. The specific procedure to request emergency custody can vary from Circuit Court to Circuit Court; however, the emergency custody hearing usually takes place very quickly after filing the request.
  2. If you are granted emergency custody, this is a temporary order, and you will need to continue with your case until there is a final order providing permanent relief.

While the emergency custody is temporary, it is not the same as temporary custody or pendente lite custody. Joint Custody – Joint Custody is actually broken down into three categories: Joint Legal, Shared Physical, and Combination.

  • Joint Legal Custody is where the parents work together and share the care and control of the upbringing of the child, even if the child has only one primary residence. Each parent has an equal voice in making decisions.There are hybrid versions of joint legal custody where one parent may have “tiebreaking” authority (the final word in cases of disagreement), or each parent may have certain areas of decision making authority.
  • Shared Physical Custody is when the child has two residences, spending at least 35% of the time with each parent.

Legal custody involves the right to make long-term plans and decisions for the education, religious training, discipline, non-emergency medical care and other matters of major significance concerning the child’s welfare. The court may order legal and physical custody in a number of ways.

Pendente lite custody – See the information about temporary custody below. Physical custody involves spending time with the child and making decisions about the child’s everyday needs, including where the child lives. The court may order legal and physical custody in a number of ways. Physical custody can sometimes be referred to as “parenting time.” Sole Custody – A person may be granted sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or both.

Split Custody (of 2 or more children) – Split custody means that one parent has sole custody of some of the children, and the other parent has sole custody of the remaining children. Split custody is easiest to describe in a situation where there are two children, and each parent obtains full physical custody over one child.

  1. Some of the factors that may point to this result are ages of the children and their wishes.
  2. Generally, the courts do not favor split custody.
  3. Temporary Custody – Temporary custody is also called pendente lite, meaning “pending the litigation”.
  4. To formalize custody before you begin litigation, you will need to file for temporary court ordered custody.

Temporary custody will be based on the “best interests” of the child standard. It is not an “initial” award of custody. Instead it is temporary custody while you wait for the court to hold a hearing. To be awarded temporary custody you must file a request for hearing and an Order for Temporary Custody and Support along with your Complaint for Custody or Divorce.

How do I file a petition for custody in Maryland?

How do I open a new child custody case? – Complete a Complaint for Custody (CC-DR-004) to ask to the court to grant you custody. File the form in the Circuit Court where the child lives or where either parent lives. Make enough copies for the other parent and keep at least one copy for yourself. Watch a video on how to file a custody case,

Is Maryland a joint custody state?

What is joint custody? What is sole custody? – There are two types of custody in Maryland: legal custody and physical custody. The parties can jointly hold legal custody, or one party may be given sole legal custody of the child. Legal custody is the right to make major life decisions for a minor child, such as education, major medical treatment, and religious affiliation.

If both parents have joint legal custody, they both share that decision making right. It should be granted in a scenario where both parents are willing and able to effectively communicate with each other about decisions regarding their child. In sole legal custody, the party granted the same is the decision-maker for the child.

Physical custody can be either shared physical custody or sole physical custody to one parent with visitation to the other. Sole custody involves one parent having physical custody of the child or children. The other parent, or “non-custodial” parent, only exercises physical custody over the child when visitation rights are involved.

You might be interested:  How Old Can You Buy A Gun In Maryland?

Do you pay child support with joint custody?

The Basics of Joint Custody and Child Support The short answer is: yes. Shared parenting arrangements that include joint physical custody do not negate child support obligations between parents. But there are many key factors that may affect the amount of child support owed.

When one parent has sole physical custody, typically the other, non-custodial parent will be responsible for making child support payments. These child support payments help the custodial parent with providing shelter, food, clothing, and other necessities for their children. When physical custody is shared, however, both parents will be providing those basics to their children independently.

That fact may lead some co-parents to believe that their state’s child support laws will not apply to them, but that’s simply not the case. Certain states do allow judges discretion over when it’s appropriate to deviate from the state’s child support formulas, and some may choose to do so for situations that involve joint physical custody.

  • But that’s not a guarantee and a deviation from standard child support formulas could still involve one parent being responsible for child support payments in some form.
  • The ultimate goal of child support laws is to ensure that children have access to the same standard of living that they would if both of their parents were living together.

Most state child support laws, It’s helpful to understand which model your state uses because it will affect the calculation of your child support obligations. The income shares model uses the combined monthly income of parents and the number of children to determine child support obligations.

Once the child support obligation is determined, the court uses the parents’ proportional contributions to the combined monthly income to divide the obligation between them. There is a refined version of the Income Shares model, called the Melson Formula, that also takes a parent’s ability to meet their own basic needs into account when calculating child support obligations.

The Melson Formula is : Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana. The percentage of income model determines child support obligations by using a percentage rate of a parent’s monthly earnings. That percentage can be dependent on the number of children. Certain states have a flat rate that is applied across all income levels.

  • Other states have varying percentage rates that take the obligor’s income level into account.
  • Amount of time affects child custody.
  • Many states have provisions in their child support laws that take the allocation of parenting time into account when calculating child support obligations.
  • Even parents who do not have an equal 50/50 split in parenting time may see a reduction in their child support payments.

When determining how parenting time should affect child support obligation, courts frequently use the number of overnights each parent has with their children. Many court websites have parenting time calculators or worksheets to help co-parents determine the number of nights each has for a certain year.

Certain states also take ‘equivalent care’ into account when modifying child support obligations. Equivalent care, which may be referred to by a different term in your state, is time spent with one parent that does not include overnight stays but during which the parent still incurs expenses roughly equivalent to parenting time with an overnight stay.

In certain situations where parents have equal amounts of parenting time and also have roughly equal income, it may be the case that no child support is paid between co-parents. If co-parents come to collaborative custody agreements that no child support is to be paid between them, some courts may be able to accept that agreement if, and only if, they determine that it’s in the best interests of the child.

  • However, if there are differences in income between parents, that will have an effect on the amount of child support owed.
  • Family law is complicated, and child support laws are even more complicated with many added factors that have the potential to affect the calculations of child support obligations.
  • It’s absolutely vital that parents consult a legal professional and trusted law firm in their area about their own child support issues.

Sometimes a parent would like to prevent joint physical custody. The most essential aspect of joint custody is that a custody agreement may be modified at any time if one parent can demonstrate a change in circumstances.

Is a father entitled to joint custody?

Shared Custody – Shared custody is also known as joint custody, shared residency or shared parenting. This type of custody allows the child to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Shared custody also enables both parents to have equal involvement in key decision-making that will impact the child.

Does a father have a right to joint custody?

What rights does a father have to see his child during marriage? – Fathers rights over a child during the course of the marriage are the same as the mother. When a father is married to his child’s mother the English courts presume, he is the biological father.

Therefore, both the mother and the father have the right to share legal and physical custody of the child. Many fathers often wonder what rights does a father have to see his child during marriage. A married father shares equal custody rights with the mother. Until a court order confirms otherwise the father has a right to equal custody of the child.

If the child is born into the marriage then the father has automatic parental responsibility over the child. Based on this a married fathers rights over a child include the rights to make decisions concerning the legal matters, as well as educational, health and welfare and religious matters.

  1. A father’s rights over a child will also require him to provide food, clothes and shelter for his child.
  2. Courts can often request a marriage certificate or birth certificate with the father’s name listed on it as evidence in a hearing concerning child arrangement.
  3. This can act as evidence to show the father’s involvement in the child’s life since birth and help show the child’s past and present relationship with the father.
You might be interested:  What Are Renters Rights In Maryland?

This can be very crucial when determining child arrangement and child custody given that the courts want to see the relationship the father has had with their child and how this impacts the welfare of the child.

How a mother can lose a custody battle in Maryland?

Abusive Mothers Lose Child Custody – A mother’s abuse and neglect results an automatic loss of child custody in Maryland. The ex’s custody lawyers will try to prove any sign of neglect towards the child so the mother loses custody, It’s not just abuse against the child that the court considers during custody cases.

Although decisions can be reversed, if your ex can ever prove that the mother was abusive to anyone in the household, then the judge will likely deem the mother unfit to care for a child. Again: If the mother is legally determined as the cause of a fundamentally abusive relationship, then the judge may decide against the mother’s custody claim,

Mother or father, positive relationships with your ex will only be to your – and your child’s – benefit.

What do judges look for in child custody cases in Maryland?

1. Who is the Primary Caregiver? – The judge will look at who currently serves in the primary caregiving role for the child. If one parent is with them almost exclusively and the other parent has been mostly absent from the child’s life, this may impact the child custody arrangement.

However, if one parent has been absent from the child’s life due to the other parent restricting access, this is also something the court may consider. Is the Person Fit for the Role of Primary Caregiver? Fitness for taking care of a child is another aspect of child custody arrangements. The judge will consider whether someone shows signs of fitness to be a parent/guardian including criminal past, time availability, mental stability, financial fitness, and more.

Maryland courts examine a wide range of indicators that someone may be fit or unfit for caregiving. You may be asked to submit things like pay stubs, tax information, medical records, household documentation, and explanations about how you plan to care for the child.

How long does it take to get a custody hearing in Maryland?

Scheduling – A trial’s start date depends on the court’s calendar. Maryland tries to process cases within 12 months of the plaintiff opening the case, although this doesn’t always happen. Less contentious cases usually get to trial sooner, while more difficult cases often require more time for discovery or other matters.

What rights do fathers have in Maryland?

What Are a Father’s Rights in Maryland? – Under Maryland state law, both parents are presumed to be the natural custodians of their children. Instead of favoring the mother or father, the law instead looks at what is in the best interest of the child or children.

Who gets the house in joint custody?

There are lots of decisions to make when getting divorced, particularly when it comes to the division of assets. Usually the biggest asset a couple will own is the family home. Deciding which person should get the house can be one of the hardest problems to tackle during a divorce.

  1. There are no set rules to dictate what should happen to the family home.
  2. Instead, it can depend on a lot of factors, with the most important being whether you have children.
  3. This is because divorce law in England & Wales prioritises the welfare of any children involved above anything else.
  4. This means the provision of a secure home for the children comes first, along with minimising disruption to their lives as much as is reasonably possible.

For this reason, the person responsible for the day-to-day care of the children will often be entitled to remain in the family home. So, who gets the house in Divorce is closely linked to child custody, with the Court typically awarding the right to the primary care-giver.

What percentage is child support in MD?

The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent’s income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent.

Can a child decide custody in Maryland?

At What Age Is A Child’s Preference Taken Into Account? – In Maryland, a court will take the child’s preference into account when they are 16 years old. Once a child reaches the age of 16, they also have the right to petition for the custody arrangement to be altered.

Are parents entitled to 50/50 custody?

In recent years, joint physical custody (also called shared physical custody) has become popular because it allows both parents to have substantial involvement in their child’s life. In particular, many parents like splitting time 50/50. Parents commonly choose 50/50 custody when they reach an agreement, and it can also be ordered by a court following trial, if appropriate.