In this article, you can discover:
- Reasons for a monitored exchange in Maryland.
- Information on grandparents’ custody and visitation rights in Maryland.
- Potential consequences of ignoring or rejecting a custody order.
What Are Monitored Exchanges?
A monitored exchange is where two people can safely meet to exchange custody of a child. This can be helpful in situations where there is a conflict between the parties involved. A monitored exchange site can provide a neutral location for the exchange to take place and can help to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
When Do Grandparents Or Other Relatives Have Custody Or Visitation Rights In Maryland?
As a grandparent, you do not have any inherent legal rights in the state of Maryland when it comes to custody or visitation of your grandchildren. This is because Maryland law presumes that it is the parent’s right to choose who their child will be around or not.
In many cases, a grandparent can take on the role of primary caregiver for their grandchild with the consent of the child’s parents. This is known as being a de facto parent. In these situations, if the grandparent can prove that they have stepped into the shoes of a parent and are providing care for the child, they may be able to get custody or visitation of the child. This happens more often than you might think, usually when a parent is unable to take care of their child on their own for one reason or another.
Grandparents often play an important role in raising their grandchildren, whether it is for a short period of time or longer. In many cases, the parent may live with the grandparent or ask them to take care of the child, and the grandparent essentially becomes the parent. When a court finds that a grandparent qualifies as a de facto parent it is usually in cases where the child has been with them for a few years; it is rare for this type of arrangement to last only a few months.
If a grandparent has been raising a child for years, the court may find that they are a de facto parent and treat them the same as any other parent in a custody case. This is especially true if the grandparent has taken care of the child’s needs, like schooling, doctor’s appointments, and clothing, and if both natural parents have consented to or requested this arrangement.
The court may award primary physical custody, sole legal custody, or shared custody to grandparents, depending on the best interests of the child. Grandparents who are granted custody will be treated as parents for the purposes of custody from that point onward.
What Happens If A Non-Custodial Parent Refuses To Return A Child To The Parent Who Has Primary Custody?
If the non-custodial parent takes custody of the child during the custodial parent’s court ordered time, that parent may be in contempt of the court order. The first thing to do if this happens is to determine if it is a serious enough infraction to take the matter back to court. The remedy for the custodial parent is to file a petition for contempt.
If one parent denies access to the other parent, it is not considered an emergency by most counties in Maryland and so the parent will not be able to get an immediate hearing on the issue. Unfortunately, this can be a very long and difficult process. If you are being denied access to your child you may want to file a Petition for Contempt or a Motion to Modify Custody depending on your particular circumstances.
If you’re denied access to your child, and the other parent has taken them away or is blocking communication, it may also be considered a criminal offense under the parental kidnapping statute. Although this is only true in specific circumstances and not in most cases of denial of access.
Once a petition for contempt is filed with the court, it must be proven that the parent who denied access has not only violated the court order but that they’ve done so willfully. If the court finds the party is in contempt then the Judge will order them to take specific steps in order to ‘purge’ the contempt. The purge provision can include giving the other parent make-up time, or any number of other things. The court cannot modify a custody order on a contempt petition. Modification requires a Motion to Modify Custody and involves a different standard of proof.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Custody Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.