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Rejecting Maryland Child Custody For Neglect, Abuse Or Murder


For divorced or unmarried parents, Maryland family law typically provides both parents with the right to obtain child custody rights. But in certain cases, the Maryland courts may determine that awarding custody rights would hurt the child’s best interests. For example, the Maryland courts may deny child custody rights for (1) likelihood of neglect/abuse, (2) past abuse, and (3) previous murder.

  1. Likelihood of Child Neglect/Abuse

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101 explains the rules for rejecting child custody based on a likelihood of child neglect or abuse. Under this section, the Maryland courts must first determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a party committed child neglect or abuse.

At that point, the Maryland courts must determine if there is a likelihood that such a party will commit further child neglect or abuse. If so, the Maryland courts will deny that party any child custody rights.

But if the Maryland courts determine that there is no likelihood of further child neglect or abuse, they can award a supervised visitation arrangement. Any such visitation rights must serve the child’s best interests from emotional, psychological, and physiological standpoints.

  1. Abuse Against Certain Individuals

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101.1 provides the rules for rejecting child custody based on abuse against certain individuals. In any child custody proceedings, the Maryland courts must consider any evidence of abuse a party committed against:

  • The child’s other parent;
  • The party’s spouse; or
  • Any child residing in the party’s household, including the subject of the custody proceeding and any other children.

When the Maryland courts determine that such abuse occurred, they can deny child custody rights to the abusive party. If the Maryland courts decide to award any custody rights to the abusive party, they must safeguard the best interests of:

  • The child who is subject to the custody proceeding; and
  • The victim of the abuse in question.
  1. Murder of Certain Individuals

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101.2 details the rules for rejecting child custody based on the murder of certain individuals. Under this section, the Maryland courts may not award child custody rights to a parent convicted of murdering:

  • The child’s other parent;
  • Another child of the parent; or
  • Any family or household member residing in the same domicile as the parent or child.

This prohibition under Section 9-101.2 applies to first- or second-degree murder in Maryland. The same applies to murders that occur elsewhere, if the same act would result in first- or second-degree murder charges in Maryland.

That being said, there is an exception to Section 9-101.2. The Maryland courts may award custody rights to a parent convicted of murder. But to do so, the Maryland courts must safeguard the child’s best interests, emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about child custody in Maryland, it can be highly beneficial to speak with an adept 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 support. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.





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