Unlawful Interference with Child Visitation Rights in Maryland
Even if one parent has sole legal custody over a child, the other parent generally has certain child visitation rights under Maryland family law. Any person with lawful visitation rights can see the child or children involved on a predetermined schedule. And interference with lawful child visitation is unlawful in Maryland. But before delving into the details, it will be helpful to review some background information on child visitation rights under Maryland law.
Who Qualifies for Child Visitation Rights?
Generally speaking, Maryland law provides child visitation rights to non-custodial parents. In specific situations, a grandparent or third party can request visitation rights from the Maryland state courts.
As established in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-102, a grandparent may receive child visitation rights if a state court:
- Receives and considers a petition requesting child visitation rights; and
- Determines that the parents are unfit or that exceptional circumstances exist, and that awarding visitation rights will serve the child’s best interests.
Can Someone Lose Child Visitation Rights?
As detailed in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-101, the state courts may terminate visitation rights under extraordinary circumstances. In order to exercise this power, a Maryland court must:
- Determine whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect child abuse or neglect and that it is likely that the abuse or neglect will continue if visitation is permitted; and
- If reasonable grounds exist, terminate visitation rights for the party likely responsible for child abuse or neglect.
In rare cases, a Maryland state court may find that past child abuse or neglect occurred, but that such conduct is unlikely to occur in the future. In these specific situations, the courts may approve supervised visitation rights that safeguard the child’s best interests.
What if Someone Interferes with Child Visitation Rights?
As provided in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-105, the state courts have several remedies available to address interference with child visitation rights. When there is unjustifiable denial or interference with child visitation rights, a Maryland court may:
- Require a rescheduling of the previous visitation;
- Change the legal conditions of future visitations to prevent interference; or
- Order the party who denied or interfered with child visitation rights to pay applicable legal costs and fees.
As always, the Maryland state courts must ensure that their actions promote the best interests of any children involved. That is an overarching factor in any family law matter involving children in Maryland.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with child visitation rights under Maryland family law, it can be decidedly helpful to speak with a trusted family law attorney. The Bel Air child visitation 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.