Key Provisions of Custody Agreements in Maryland
During the process of a divorce, one of the most important considerations centers on the issue of child custody. Even after the completion of a divorce, both parents retain a duty to care for the best interests of their shared children. In order to streamline this process, the divorced parents can enter into a custody agreement. These agreements allow the parents to resolve key issues concerning their children, including legal custody, visitation rights and modifications.
- Legal Custody
Above all else, a custody agreement must address how the parents will approach responsibility for the child or children involved. The agreement must outline where the primary residence of the child or children will be. Additionally, the agreement must state whether or not the parties will have joint legal custody, allowing both parents to make decisions concerning child development, education, health and welfare.
A custody agreement may provide a statement concerning emergency medical care. In such situations, either parent can make a decision for immediate medical treatment — so long as the other parent receives notice as soon as reasonably possible.
Furthermore, a custody agreement can also deal with the issue of family communications. When both parents have the right to participate in their child or children’s day-to-day life, they can also have the right to stay in contact or communication.
- Visitation Rights
A custody agreement should also address the physical custody or visitation rights of each parent. This ensures that both parents understand when and how they will care for their children. Specifically, the parents should ensure that they delineate the visitation rights for:
- Weekdays — The parents should outline visitation rights for normal weekdays during the school year, including the primary residence;
- Weekends — The parents should outline visitation rights for weekends during the school year;
- Summer Vacation — The parents should outline visitation rights for the extended period of summer vacation;
- Winter Break — The parents should outline visitation rights for shorter breaks, including winter and spring breaks, Thanksgiving and other related holidays;
- Federal Holidays — The parents should outline any arrangements for federal holidays, especially when those holidays occur at the beginning or end of a weekend; and
- Special Days — The parents should outline any arrangements for special days, including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and applicable birthdays.
A joint custody agreement should also address how the parents address modifications. If the parents have a dispute or a substantial change in circumstances, the custody agreement would outline next steps. In many cases, the parents will try to negotiate or mediate their differences before returning to court. Ultimately, the Maryland courts are responsible for ensuring the best interests of the child or children involved.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have legal questions about joint custody agreements in Maryland, it can be tremendously beneficial to retain the services of a dependable family law attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Bel Air, Maryland, have more than 55 years of combined legal experience in matters of criminal defense and family law, including joint custody agreements. If you need legal help, contact us for an initial consultation.