Losing custody of your child(ren) is heartbreaking, but it is important to calmly assess the situation, and focus on the critical steps you must take after this happens. Here, the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law detail how you should proceed if you are denied child custody.
Listen Carefully to the Judge’s Decision
Unless a child custody arrangement is agreed upon by the parents—which is often the case—a judge will determine who will receive physical and/or legal custody of a child. The judge’s decision is based off a wide array of factors established by Maryland case law, but will ultimately hinge on what is in the child’s “best interest.” Here are a few key areas which may be assessed:
- Do you have a stable means of supporting your child?
- Will you encourage a continuous and regular relationship between the other parent and the child?
- Do you live in a secure and habitable environment?
- Do you, or anyone else who lives with you, have any history of child abuse or neglect?
- Have you lovingly cared for your child in the past?
- Do you have any personal struggles such as an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or other problematic vices?
Should a parent struggle in one of these areas, a judge will often make recommendations to the parent as to what they need to address or improve upon. This might include rehab, treatment, therapy, a new job or living arrangement or other measures recommended by the judge. Listen to the judge’s decision, and take their recommendations seriously. Carefully following a court-issued mandate, and showing that you are actively trying to better yourself and/or your situation for your child, will prove valuable should you decide to attempt to regain custody.
Spend Time with Your Child Based on Your Visitation Rights
The court ultimately hopes that both parents actively participate in their child’s life, provided each parent has visitation rights. Many parents who are denied custody are provided generous visitation rights. Spend as much time with your child as your visitation rights allow—this may show the court that you are serious about playing an active role in your child’s life.
If the custodial spouse attempts to prevent you from visiting with your child, document this missed visitation time, and, initially, attempt to rectify the situation with your spouse. If this does not work, your family law attorney may be able to send them a letter explaining your visitation rights, and the consequences of preventing you from visiting with your child. In extreme cases, the court may get involved, and legally enforce the previously established visitation schedule.
Do Not Stop Paying Child Support
Many parents who are denied custody of their children are required to pay child support to the custodial parent. Regardless of your relationship with the custodial parent, do not stop paying child support. If the custodial parent violates any part of the custodial or visitation agreement, document these violations and seek assistance from your family law attorney, who may petition the court to step in.
Retain an Experienced Family Law Attorney
A court-mandated child custody or visitation arrangement may be able to be altered at any time, based upon a showing of a material change in circumstances that impact the child’s best interest. A family law attorney, who is well-versed in child custody proceedings, will have the skills and know-how necessary to help you determine the best course of action after being denied custody. The family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law are dedicated to helping parents fight for their custodial and visitation rights, in and out of the courtroom. For more information, or to retain legal counsel, contact us today.