In many cases, custody is contested right from the start. Unless the parents are choosing to have an uncontested divorce, they split from each other before the divorce, meaning one spouse will have to move out. When that happens, one parent, naturally, takes the kids, and that’s the initial process for splitting. Though it’s not gender-based by rule, the mother takes the kids in many cases. The natural relationship for that parent with the child remains, but the parent who doesn’t have the kids sometimes feels left out and will aim for fifty-fifty or full custody, even though the kid didn’t go with them initially. That’s the basis for many of the custody battles when the split leaves the kids with one parent, and they don’t have an agreement amongst themselves on how to see the kids. In other cases, there is an informal agreement between the parents regarding how the kids can spend time with the other parent, but it still often becomes unacceptable to the parent who doesn’t have the kids.
That situation remains until the court schedules a pendent lite hearing (a Latin term that means, essentially, temporary), which dictates who has custody up until the trial date (often several months away). It sometimes takes a couple of months to get the pendente lite hearing to begin with, so in those few months beforehand, the parent who has custody is establishing a routine with the kids, which will be hard to break with an order from the pendente lite hearing. That means one parent might have the inside track of keeping the custody, but not always.
The court intervenes at the pendente lite hearing unless they have some kind of a mediation, and that court’s decision is binding to the parents and can also include an order for child support. Aggressive attorneys will do whatever they can to get their clients involved in the child’s upbringing immediately after a split, if they’re not the custodial parent, so that their client won’t be blocked out after that pendente lite hearing or leading up to the divorce. If there’s no access until the trial, then it’s an uphill battle to get back in that kid’s life after those months that the kid was living with one parent.
In other words, that initial split dictates a lot, and the parent who doesn’t have custody at the time of the split needs to be aggressive in seeing their child. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are many circumstances that play into what the court does for those temporary orders, including any allegations about fitness or accommodation, which are often thrown in both directions. They don’t have a stable home, or They just moved into a friend’s apartment—any number of reasons that a parent will give as to why they don’t want their kids to stay with the other parent for extended periods of time. And, in most cases, that’s a symptom of the split, rather than of the parent’s fitness, though there are legitimate reasons for the requests at times.
That’s why an attorney is very important in ensuring the non-custodial parent is involved in the child’s life at the time of the split, so that parent isn’t facing an uphill battle to get back into the child’s life at the time of the trial.
For more information on Child Custody & Support Law in Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (240) 331-0083 today.