here are no reported cases of a court honoring complete denial of visitation
for a parent. Even in cases of abuse, the only reported cases have upheld
supervised visitation. Supervised visitation is when the parent is only allowed
to visit with the child in the company of another person. This person is usually
a friend or relative that the two parents agree will be allowed to act as a
chaperon. Supervised visitation often calls for a restriction of visitation to a
particular location and time.
Grandparent Visitation Who can be awarded visitation?
Obviously a biological parent can
be awarded visitation. Additionally, grandparents (even when
the parents weren't married or are not currently divorced) and stepparents may
be awarded visitation rights. While there are no reported cases of brothers or
sisters being given visitation, a strong argument could be made that it would be
in the best interest of the child.
When can visitation be denied? The court has
the power to deny visitation. Normally the court will only stop visitation for a
certain time or until a certain task is performed. For example, the court has
previously stayed visitation until the parent met their financial obligation. If
your spouse should deny you court ordered visitation, you should file an action
for contempt (Dom. Rel.3). Many parents feel they have the right to stop paying
child support, but they are wrong. Withholding of child support will only get
you in trouble and possibly arrested.
If the child is not returned within 48 hours, the visitation
parent may have committed one of the following crimes:
If the abducting parent remained within the
state: misdemeanor - can be fined $25 or imprisoned for up to 30 days
If the abducting parent crosses the state line:
felony - can be fined $250 - $1000 and/or imprisoned 30 days to 1 year
If the other parent has actually stolen the child you should
report this to your local police department immediately. The FBI can be called
in to find the fugitive parent and the child as well. The only exception to this
rule is when the child is in clear and present danger (the victim of abuse or
abandonment) requiring the noncustodial parent to save them. The noncustodial
parent must be ready to prove this clear and present danger and they are
required by Maryland law to file a petition within 96 hours. In that event, both
parents will need a lawyer.
Once an incident like this has happened, you may want to
consider modifying the custody order. When a parent seeks to have the custody
order Modification of Custody
changed, it is his/her burden to show the court why
it should be changed. The court follows the old
notion of "if it isn't broke don't fix it." This is based on the idea
that stability is best for the child unless you can show that there is something
in the environment that will adversely impact on the well being of the child.
This is not as simple as it may seem. The factor(s) in the environment have to
not just make your home as good as the custodial parents, but better. To do this
you must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that
it is in the child's best interests to make the change you are proposing. If
the two homes are thought to be equal, then custody will stay as it is. Remember
that a temporary or pendente lite custody order is not a final order. You would
not be required to show a substantial change in circumstances to have custody
changed in the "permanent" custody order.
A child at least 16 years of age can seek a change in
custody on his/her own. However, it will be the minor's burden to prove that a
change of custody would be in his/her best interests at this time.
The court that made the original custody and visitation
order retains jurisdiction to decide modification unless the parties and child
no longer have close ties to the court and the court surrenders its
jurisdiction. However, the court with original jurisdiction may refuse to hear
the custody case if a child has been wrongfully taken from another state or
taken without the consent of the person entitled to custody.
The children have been snatched, which
is a crime. In response to this not infrequent occurrence, the federal
government passed PKPA, the parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. It is used in
two ways: to settle custody disputes between parents who reside in different
states; and to offer a bit of relief in helping to locate the missing parent
through the Parent Locator Service.
In addition to the federal government's PKPA, another law
adopted by all 50 states is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction ACT (UCCJA).
Generally speaking, UCCJA is the better legislation but PKPA takes precedence
because it is federal. A major difference between the two is that UCCJA can be
enacted I foreign jurisdiction cases whereas PKPA is for domestic use only.
What both these statutes are supposed to do is assist in
interstate custody disputes by returning the children to the proper custodial
parent. Basically, both laws dictate jurisdiction rather than any major
determination of custody. For example, The two statutes would assist the court
in determining what state has jurisdiction, such as the child's current home
state or the child's home state six months prior to the start of a custodial
proceeding. The two statutes can be quite complicated and are definitely not to
be tackled by yourself. A competent lawyer is a must in trying to work through
these laws ands establish custody in interstate cases.
How do I obtain custody of my child?
one of the separated parents may petition a
circuit court in
Florida for custody of a child. If
parties cannot agree about who should have custody, the court will grant custody
either solely to one of the parents or joint custody to both of the parents.
Where can I find information about missing children?
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 550
Arlington, VA 22201
Can fathers obtain custody?
Florida, fathers can gain custody of their children. The law no longer favors
one parent over the other. The parent seeking custody must meet the same
criteria: what is in the best interests of the child.
Can a child have input into a custody decision?
will sometimes listen to the wishes of older children. Courts rarely take into
account the wishes of very young children. Children who are 16 years or older
may petition the court themselves for a change in custody.
What is supervised visitation?
Supervised visitation means that the non-custodial parent
may not spend time alone with the child. It usually also means that the
non-custodial parent may visit the child
at a particular time and in a particular place.
When is do grandparents or other relatives have custody or
Generally, the natural parents will have a presumptive right
to custody. Only in cases
the parents are found to be unfit, or there are exceptional circumstances, will
third parties be granted custody. At any time after a divorce, grandparents may
petition the court for visitation rights.
What happens if the non-custodial parent refuse to return
the child to the parent with custody?
If a child is under twelve years of age, it is unlawful to
keep that child for more than 48 hours within the state of Maryland, or remove
the child from the state of Maryland for more than 48 hours, after the lawful
custodian has demanded the child's return.
Are visitation rights contingent on the payment of child
No. Visitation rights may not be denied to the non-custodial
parent, even though the noncustodial parent is not paying child
How do I exercise my visitation rights, if the non-custodial
parent is denying me access to my child?
You may seek a court order defining your visitation rights.
Violation of this court order will result in the custodial parent being held in
contempt of court.
Software for Parenting Plans and
Single parents use
KidsFirst! web-based software to create
quick and easy legal documents to file in court and share an online co-parenting
calendar. The Custody Agreement is for decisions about housing and
co-parenting schedules. The Parenting Plan is for decisions about healthcare,
education, religion, communication, safety, travel, childcare/daycare,
drugs/alcohol, sports/activities, and much more. When signed by the judge, these
documents become a court order and any violation is against the law.