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Child Custody: Answers To Common Questions

Navigating any issue in divorce can be difficult. If you have a minor child, the future of your parent-child relationship is likely one of your top concerns. Parents often have questions about how child custody determinations are made in Virginia courts. I am family law attorney Greg Abney. At Abney at Law, P.C., in Rockville, I am dedicated to communicating with my clients from the start of my representation to the conclusion of the case.

While no page discussing frequently asked questions could reasonably answer every question about a legal issue, I have compiled a short list of common questions parents have about child custody and parenting time determinations. For direct answers to any specific questions you may have, I invite you to call 301-850-4972 to arrange a one-on-one initial consultation to learn how I can help you.

What Is The Difference Between Legal Custody And Physical Custody?

Maryland law recognizes two types of child custody — legal and physical. Legal custody refers to who will make important decisions about raising the child, such as those pertaining to school, religion, disciplinary matters, medical care in nonemergency situations and other substantial issues that involve the well-being of the child. Physical custody refers to the parenting plan involving when each parent will spend time with the child.

What Is The Difference Between Joint Custody And Sole Custody?

In a joint custody arrangement, both parents share the relevant parental rights. In a sole custody arrangement, one parent serves as the primary decision-maker. Courts will generally provide a noncustodial parent with visitation rights when awarding sole physical custody to the other parent.

Can Children Choose Which Parent They Will Live With?

In general, children cannot choose which parent should have custody. The court may weigh the child’s preference, age, maturity and the reasons underlying the custody preference as one factor. The final determination of what is in the best interests of the child, however, is based on evaluating a range of factors. Children who are 16 or 17 years old may petition the court to modify a custody arrangement. Even in these situations, the court will weigh the overall evidence to determine whether or not to amend a child custody arrangement.

Can Parenting Time Be Denied To A Parent For Failing To Pay Child Support?

No. Child support is intended for the child, not as a payment system to obtain visitation rights and parenting time with the child. The parenting plan outlined in the physical custody order of the court is not dependent upon child support obligations. However, a parent may seek to enforce a child support order in court.

Can An Existing Child Custody Order Be Changed?

Yes, if there is a material change in circumstances to justify a child custody or support modification. If circumstances have changed to render an existing order unworkable, the court will evaluate the circumstances and determine if a modification is in the best interests of the child.

Call An Experienced Lawyer In Rockville For Personal Service

For straightforward answers to your individual questions — tailored to your family dynamics — please call to arrange an initial consultation. I provide one-on-one personal service at affordable rates. Call 301-850-4972 or use the convenient email form to arrange a consultation. My office is located near the Rockville Metro Station, just steps from the circuit courthouse.