Child Visitation Rights Under Maryland Family Law
Child visitation rights allow a parent or other person without to spend regular time with a child — even if they do not have legal child custody rights. Visitation arrangements are subject to approval by the Maryland state courts, which are always bound to consider the best interests of the child involved.
Child’s Best Interests Standard
When a Maryland court determines visitation rights and many other aspects of Maryland family law, the overarching standard relates to the best interests of the children involved. Stated otherwise, the Maryland courts must safeguard the interests of children before granting certain family law requests.
To ascertain a child’s best interests in visitation cases, the Maryland courts examine many factors, including but not necessarily limited to the:
- Character and fitness of the person requesting visitation rights;
- Preference of the child;
- Existence of legal agreements concerning visitation rights;
- Proximity of the custodial parent to the person requesting visitation rights;
- Likelihood of sustaining beneficial family relationships; and
- Previous abandonment or surrender of the child by the person requesting visitation rights, if any.
Requesting Child Visitation Rights
In order to request formal visitation rights, a person must file a petition with the Maryland state courts. In reviewing a request for visitation rights, the state courts will first consider the factors above to establish the best interests of the child involved.
- If granting visitation rights would not serve the child’s best interests, then the Maryland courts will deny the request, or the court may grant visitation but place restrictions and/or supervision.
- If granting visitation rights would serve the child’s best interests, then the Maryland courts may grant the request. However, state law does not require the courts to grant visitation rights to any person.
Ineligibility for Child Visitation Rights
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101, there are certain situations in which a person may become ineligible for child visitation rights. When considering a request for child visitation rights, the Maryland courts also investigate any past instances of abuse or neglect.
If the person requesting visitation rights previously abused or neglected the child in question, the Maryland courts engage in further analysis. If abuse or neglect is likely to reoccur, the courts will not grant the request for child visitation rights or will require supervision of the visits. On the other hand, if the courts determine that there is zero likelihood of future abuse or neglect, it is possible to attain child visitation rights.
Interference with Child Visitation Rights
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-105, there are rules against interfering with lawfully obtained child visitation rights. When there is interference with or denial of child visitation rights, the Maryland courts may award any of the remedies below:
- Reschedule the visitation that was denied or interfered with;
- Modify the visitation order with additional terms and conditions to prevent future denial or interference; and
- Award legal costs and attorneys to the person whose visitation rights were denied or interfered with.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about child visitation rights in Maryland, it can be highly constructive to consult with an experienced family law attorney. The Bel Air family attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including child visitation rights. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.