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Annapolis Divorce Law Blog

Chicken or egg?

Child custody is one those topics about which there is no shortage of opinions. Recently, there has been a suggestion that shared custody should be the norm in most divorces. The governor of Maryland has even created a Commission on Child Custody Decision Making, which is studying the issue.

There is much evidence to suggest that children do better with joint custody. The evidence certainly suggests that single parent children do not do as well. Nevertheless, this begs the question. Do the children do better because their parents get along and cooperate, which is why they joint custody is an available option? 

More states to join Maryland by allowing same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court has the ability to choose which cases it hears. With the exception of some constitutionally required original jurisdiction lawsuits between the states, it only has to hear arguments in cases that that the justices agree to hear.

It exercised that discretion this week, when it refused to hear cases from U.S. courts of appeals involving the issue of same-sex marriage bans. With difficult and controversial cases, the Court often prefers to allow cases to percolate within the federal district and appellate courts. 

Rock, hard place, child support guidelines

While there is an ongoing debate regarding child support and child custody, there seems to be little consensus as to what should be done to improve the system used in most states.

While we have all heard stories or known individuals who claim they have suffered injustice at the hands of their state's family courts and child support guidelines, it is often difficult to identify what solution would "fix" the problem.

While some fathers complain that the courts are against them and deny them equal custody for their children. This then creates large child support obligations because of the way the guidelines are tied to custody. At the same time, statistics show children in single-mother households have poverty rates double that of single-father households.  

Child custody factors in Maryland

There are few topics that can be more complex than the determination of child custody or visitation during a divorce proceeding. For a couple with children in Maryland, few issues are likely to be more important, as the decision will govern their interaction with their children and the other parent for many years if the children are young.

Maryland, like most states, uses the concept of the child's best interest and the guiding principle for this child custody determination. "Best interests" is a broad concept and because the determination is done on an individualized basis in each divorce, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution. 

Maryland may revoke your licenses for child support arrears

It is important to remember that the obligation that a parent supports their child arises when a child is born. This obligation attaches at birth and is not affected by whether the child's parents are married, although discussions of child support are often a significant element of a divorce proceeding.

Sadly, during a divorce, many parents will consider a child support obligation a means of punishing the other parent, and will consistently pay less than the agreed amount, make late payments or refuse to pay altogether. 

Military divorces are different

Military divorce creates many added complexities to the already complex divorce process. Maryland has a great number of servicemembers stationed at bases located within and adjacent to the state, which means that Maryland's divorce laws come into play for many servicemembers when their marriage fails.

For younger servicemembers, one of the most challenging elements of a military divorce can be the issue of child custody. The demands of the military may create the need for long deployments, often overseas. 

Divorce considerations: Don’t forget about the IRS

If you are a Maryland resident embarked on the divorce process, you’ve obviously got a lot on your plate.

Although no marital dissolution is boilerplate, of course, with unique considerations attaching in every instance that a marriage is untied, some common factors and concerns often coalesce when couples sit down to negotiate divorce details.

Kids, for example. For obvious reasons, child custody can be a paramount focus when a divorcing couple has children to think about. Who will be the custodial parent? Can a workable parenting plan be crafted? How will visitation play out?

Need to change your child support order in Maryland?

If you have been divorced in Maryland and have children from the marriage, it is likely that you have a child support obligation. Unless you have shared custody, have the exact same income and the child or children spend exactly the same amount of overnights at each parents home, one of the parents owe child support to the other parent.

But after the divorce is completed, life moves on and parents lose their jobs or have other changes that affect their income. What do you do then, if you lose your job, have your hours cut or suffer some change that reduces your income?

Virginia same-sex marriage ruling stayed by Supreme Court

As was expected, the stay issued from the U.S. Supreme Court places a hold on same-sex marriages within Virginia, and the ongoing saga of same-sex marriage appears to move one step closer to some type of resolution, albeit slowly.

The cases from appeals courts in Virginia, Utah and likely the Sixth Circuit will all be awaiting some action by the Court this term, although, if the court waits until the Sixth Circuit issues its ruling, arguments for the case would be unlikely before late in this term.

Can your child decide to change the custody agreement?

Child custody issues are never easy. Never. No matter how the parenting plan or custody agreement is put together, there are always the emotions. When your child is at the other parent's home, there are worries over rules and setting of boundaries. There are concerns over what they are watching via the now virtually unlimited media delivery systems to whether they are eating right.

There is the sometimes inconvenience of the transfers between parent's homes, to say nothing of the negotiations to arrive at that agreement in the first place. And that is just with a joint or shared custody. What about when one parent has primary custody and the other parent only sees them for limited periods throughout the year? 

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