Towson Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers
Our Baltimore County Family Law Attorneys Handle Complex Third-Party Visitation & Custody Matters
In the United States, many grandparents play an integral role in raising their grandchildren, either out of choice or necessity. According to U.S. Census data, over 16,000 children in the state of Maryland live with their grandparents. Each year, thousands of grandparents seek to retain legal custody or establish legal visitation rights with their grandchildren. At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, our Towson child custody lawyers protect grandparent’s rights to achieve these goals.
Grandparents may seek custody and/or visitation of their grandchildren under a variety of circumstances. In some cases, one or both parents are unable to properly care for the child. When a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol and becomes unfit to parent, a grandparent may advocate to assume the parental role. Other times a parent’s extreme neglect or child abuse may lead a grandparent to file an action for custodial or visitation rights. Often, the death of a parent initiates a grandparents’ rights matter.
The dissolution of a marriage can also lead a grandparent to seek custody and/or visitation rights. Divorce affects more than just the spouses and their children. Extended family members, including the grandparents, often have serious concerns about how a divorce will affect their ability to remain significantly involved in the lives of the divorcing couple’s children.
Grandparent Custody Rights in Maryland
Maryland courts will presume that a parent has the right to raise their own child pursuant to rulings of the United States Supreme Court. If a grandparent seeks to have the parental rights of a parent terminated, they should be prepared to meet a high burden of proof. Only under extraordinary circumstances such as abuse, neglect, mental illness or drug or alcohol dependency will the Maryland courts hold that an individual is unfit to parent.
Under Maryland law, the family court must act in the best interest of the child even if that means removing the child from his or her parents. Some of the factors that Maryland courts consider in making this determination include the length to time the child has been away from the biological parent, the sincerity of the parent’s and grandparent’s desire to retain custody of the child, the emotional effects of a custody change on the child, the age of the child when the grandparent assumed care of the child, and the stability of the grandparent’s living situation.
There is no grandparent “preference” when it comes to deciding whether a third party should assume legal custody of a child. Grandparents have the same rights as other extended family members / third parties (siblings, stepparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) in custody matters. Maryland courts will examine the closeness of the relationship between the child and the grandparent in determining whether the grandparent is the most suitable guardian for the child.
Grandparent Visitation Rights in Maryland
Grandparents and other third parties may obtain “reasonable” visitation when it is in the best interest of the child. However, a finding in favor of the third party’s request for visitation over the objection of the parents is a high obstacle to overcome and requires the assistance of an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. Legal parents have constitutional rights to govern the care, custody, and control of their children; therefore, a third party, such as a grandparent or stepparent, who seeks visitation or custody, must demonstrate parental unfitness or “exceptional circumstances” as a prerequisite to the family court’s consideration of the best interests of the child. The right to visitation may be granted when there is sufficient proof of “exceptional circumstances” that demonstrate that the child will detrimentally suffer if the grandparent is not granted visitation.
The Experienced Hunt Valley Family Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Aggressively Protect the Rights of Grandparents
If you are a grandparent who is seeking custody or visitation with your grandchildren in Maryland, the Hunt Valley child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help. Our attorneys understand the importance of the presence of grandparents in a child’s life. Likewise, other members of a child’s extended family may play a significant role in the raising of a child and their sudden absence may affect them detrimentally. Our team of experienced negotiators, mediators and litigators will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected.
With offices conveniently located in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the family lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC represent family law clients throughout the greater Baltimore area in matters related to divorce, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, same sex marriage and child custody. To schedule your free confidential consultation, call Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC today at 443-589-0150 or submit an online inquiry form.