What is the process for deciding child custody and access in Baltimore County?
The Baltimore County Circuit Court is located in Towson, Maryland. Baltimore County Circuit Court evaluates issues relating to child custody and access (what some people call “visitation”) very seriously. It provides many services to assist the parents in the emotional and difficult process relating to a custody case.
Once an action relating to custody or child access has been filed, the court conducts a scheduling hearing. At that hearing, the court will assign both parents to co-parenting classes. They can attend together or separately. Those classes are designed to educate the parents about the impact divorce and separation has upon the children. The informative presentations also help parents to better understand relationships and assist them in improving communication.
The court is also likely to refer the case to mediation. Trained mediators who work for the court system meet with the parties and attempt to encourage them to reach a voluntary collaborative decision about issues relating to custody and child access. The mediators help to improve the communication between the parties and ascertain if there is some solution that works best for both parents and the children. If the parents together can reach a resolution in the children’s best interest, that is always much preferable to a contested case decided by a Judge, who does not truly know the children and their needs and issues as their own parents do.
In certain cases, the court may then assign the file for a custody investigation, or home study, conducted by social workers in the Baltimore County Circuit Court Family Support Services Office. Some files are also referred for a psychiatric assessment. Those services can provide an objective, expert opinion by a specialist familiar with these sensitive issues.
The court tries through these different family services to educate the parents about issues relating to children, provide resources that help them to communicate better, and to assist them in reaching the best decision for their children. Despite whatever issues exist between the parents, they nevertheless are the parents of the same children whose welfare is paramount to both of them. If the parents are not able to voluntarily resolve the issues, the court uses these various tools to assist it in making the most informed, fair decision it can. The court is guided by a standard of “the best interest of the children.”
Custody cases are very challenging and emotional. It is highly recommended that a parent involved in a custody case seek competent legal counsel to guide them on the factors that the court considers and the best way to present the information, as well as to possibly assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution with the other parent.
Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles have extensive experience with child custody, parenting plans and visitation. To schedule your free consultation, call (443) 589-0150 or submit an online inquiry form.