Child Custody Training Program In Maryland For Abuse/Violence Cases
In any Maryland child custody proceeding, the state courts are responsible for safeguarding the best interests of the children involved. But in cases that may involve child abuse or domestic violence, there are additional considerations in play. To help judges and magistrates evaluate child custody in these situations, Maryland created a special training program (the “Child Custody Training Program”).
What is the Child Custody Training Program?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101.3 explains the purpose of the Child Custody Training Program. Under this section, the Maryland Judiciary must confer with child abuse and domestic violence organizations to develop a training program for judges and magistrates presiding over custody cases that may involve child abuse or domestic violence.
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-701, the term “child abuse” can refer to the physical or mental injury of a child by a parent, guardian, custodian, or similar actor. Child abuse can also refer to the sexual abuse of a child, even in the absence of physical injury. But child abuse does not include accidental injury to a child.
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Sections 4-501/4-701, the term “domestic violence” can refer to the following, if the victim and perpetrator are family/household members:
- Any act that causes serious physical injury;
- Any act that creates reasonable fear of imminent and serious physical injury;
- Rape or sexual offense;
- Attempted rape or sexual offense;
- False imprisonment;
- Revenge porn;
- Abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.
What Does the Child Custody Training Program Involve?
Section 9-101.3 also details the required components of the Child Custody Training Program. This program includes training on the:
- Typical brain development of children;
- Impact of adverse experiences, trauma, and chronic stress on children;
- Process for investigating a report of potential child abuse, including the roles of child advocacy centers, forensic interviews, local departments, and social services;
- Recognition that child abuse can occur, even in the absence physical evidence, verbal disclosure, or legal finding of child abuse;
- Effects and dynamics of child sexual abuse, including grooming behaviors and disclosure;
- Dynamics and effects of physical and emotional child abuse;
- Effects and dynamics of domestic violence, including coercive control;
- Impact of exposure to domestic violence on children;
- Potential impact of explicit and implicit bias on child custody determinations;
- Best practices to reasonably and feasibly protect children from trauma throughout the process of child custody determination;
- Available protections for children and families, including record sealing;
- Benefits and limitations of evaluations and risk assessments for sex offenders;
- Qualification standards for child sexual abuse evaluators and treatment providers;
- Assessment of credibility of child witnesses and testimony; and
- Any other relevant subject matter.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about child custody in Maryland, it can be particularly beneficial to speak with a loyal Bel Air child custody attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including child custody. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.