Kendall Summers Attorney at Law

Child Custody


When two parents of the same child or children do not live or parent in one household together, legal questions arise over how the parents shall co-parent their child or children, including how decisions shall be made, what schedule the child or children will follow, where will the child or children go to school and when will the child or children be with each parent. The Maryland Courts having a continuing jurisdiction to oversee the well-being of children in the state. A child custody case may be brought by any parent of a child in Maryland for the purpose of obtaining a child custody Judgment of the court, which is an order that both parents are required to follow.

In Maryland, as in most states in the United States, the standard applied by the Court to child custody cases is the “Best Interest of the Child.” The courts have come to rely, over the past decades, increasingly on the assistance of child psychologists and social workers, who help shape the court’s understanding of what is best for children in situations involving separated parents. It is generally well-established, that except in extreme cases, it is almost always in a child or children’s best interest to have regular access to both parents. The help of psychologists and therapists has helped the court to recognize that children need to know they are loved and cared for both parents and that both parents love and are invested in their care – even though the parents may be very different and bring different strengths and weaknesses to the task of parenting.

In all custody cases filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, the Circuit Court will order the parents to take an on-line parenting class, and in almost all custody cases (except those involving domestic violence), the court also order both parents to attend mediation together with a court ordered private mediator. Parents are required to pay for the mediator and also to attend two two-hour sessions. The mediator will try and facilitate the dialogue between the parents to help them come to their own agreement on co-parenting, including decision-making and scheduling. The courts have found that not only are children healthier when parents are communicating and coming up with their own scheduling, but the parties are generally much more satisfied with the process when they come up with their own terms.

If a case cannot be settled by mediation, the Court would then need to hold a trial and determine the custody issues by issuance of a Judgment and Court Order. In determining child custody cases, the courts normally need to assess what is called “Legal Custody” which refers to how decisions are made for the child between the parents. It is generally considered to be in the best interest of a child or children to have both parents talking regularly and jointly making decisions in a cooperative way. Often it is difficult to do this for divorcing parents as they have difficulties talking to one another for other reasons, but the courts try to encourage the development of co-parenting communication skills and joint decision making between the parents because it is clear that good communication between parents is in the best interest of the child or children. If the parents do not have the capability to communicate effectively, the court then would then be forced to focus on other possible ways of decision-making between them. The Courts try not to order sole custody unless there is a clear need for this remedy, as it is in the best interest of the child for both parents to communicate.

The court often must make a decision about which parent shall be the residential parent for school registration purposes. If the parents are unable to agree to this through mediation, the court will be forced to make a determination as the child or children must have an address to register for public school.

When we think of Child Custody we often think of what is called Physical Custody, which is the determination of at what times the child or children will live with each parent. At mediation, the mediator will try to help the parents to come up with a schedule that fairly allows access of both parents and which facilitates the child or children having regular access to both children. If the parents are not able to create their own schedule for child visitation between them, then the Court will make a schedule for them. Generally parents and children are better off when the parent are able to communicate and to make their own schedule for shared time with the child or children.

Do you need a Child Custody attorney in Annapolis Maryland? The Law Office of Kendall Summers can help you. Call today!

For experienced child custody legal advice, call the Law Office of Kendall Summers. Attorney Kendall Summers who has handled many child custody cases and is a court appointed mediator for the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Please call the Law Office of Kendall Summers and we would be happy to answer your questions about child custody in Maryland.