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Can a Parent Lose their Rights to Child Custody & Visitation in Maryland?

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Under Maryland law, a parent has certain child custody and visitation rights. Even if a formerly married couple completes a divorce or annulment, both parents will usually have custody or visitation rights. That being said, extraordinary circumstances can result in a parent losing their rights to child custody and visitation. For example, if a parent commits abuse or murder, then the Maryland courts have discretion to deny custody or visitation rights to that parent.

What Happens to Child Custody if a Parent Commits Abuse?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101.1, there are special restrictions in place concerning child custody and visitation rights for a parent who committed abuse or domestic violence. When deciding child custody and visitation rights, the Maryland courts must consider evidence of past abuse to protect the best interests of the children and victims involved.

As detailed in Section 9-101.1, a parent can lose child custody or visitation rights if they commit abuse or domestic violence against:

  • The other parent of the child;
  • The spouse of the abuser; or
  • Any child who resides in the same home.

If a Maryland court determines that abuse or domestic violence occurred, there is a necessary consideration for child custody and visitation. In awarding custody or visitation, the court must protect the best interests of:

  • The child or children involved in the custody proceeding; and
  • The victim(s) of past abuse or domestic violence.

Ultimately, the Maryland courts have the authority to deny child custody and visitation rights to a parent who committed abuse or domestic violence.

What Happens to Child Custody if a Parent Commits Murder?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101.2, there are special restrictions in place concerning child custody and visitation rights for a parent who committed murder. In certain situations, a parent who committed murder loses the right to child custody and visitation.

As outlined in Section 9-101.2, a parent can lose child custody or visitation rights if they commit first- or second-degree murder against:

  • The other parent of the child;
  • Another child of the other parent; or
  • Any family member who resides in the same home.

It does not matter if the murder in question occurred in Maryland or a different jurisdiction. If the parent committed murder as outlined above — or a substantially similar crime — then that parent may lose child custody and visitation rights.

Despite this restriction, the Maryland courts have the authority to award supervised visitation rights to a parent who committed murder. In order to do so, the court must demonstrate that supervised visitation would be safe and in the best interests of the children involved.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about child custody or visitation rights in Maryland, it can be markedly beneficial to contact a dependable family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including child custody and visitation rights. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

Resource:

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gfl&section=9-101.1&ext=html&session=2019RS&tab=subject5

https://www.stclaw.net/maryland-rights-for-natural-parents-of-minor-children/

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