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Who Gets Custody of a Child Prior to Divorce in Maryland?

When a couple in Maryland gets divorced, figuring out which parent will have custody of any young children after the divorce is finalized can be one of the most challenging issues to resolve. Furthermore, some divorce cases can even take months or years to reach a conclusion.

This raises another issue: Who will have custody of the children while the divorce case moves through the system? It can be a difficult question to answer. However, it’s something the Maryland divorce attorneys at McKeon Law Firm can help with. Keep reading to learn more.

Who Gets Custody of a Child While Divorce is Pending?

Under Maryland’s divorce laws, there’s no single answer for which parent gets custody of a child while a divorce is pending. The guiding principle of Maryland’s child custody laws is to do what’s best for the child, no matter what the parents have to say. This principle also applies to custody decisions while a divorce is still pending.

A few different types of custody arrangements can occur while a divorce is pending. The first and most common is temporary custody. Temporary custody is also referred to “pendente lite” custody, roughly translated from Latin as “while litigation is pending.” Once one or both parents have filed a petition for divorce with the relevant court, a judge or magistrate will hold a hearing to decide which parent, or if both parents, will have custody of any children while the divorce is pending.

If both parents agree on which of them should have temporary custody or have come up with a shared custody arrangement, the court will likely go with the parents’ decision. If the parents cannot agree, it’s up to the court to decide who the child will live with as the divorce unfolds. The court will consider many factors when making their decision, such as:

  • Which parent is located closest to the child’s school
  • Which parent can spend the most time with the child
  • What is the current status quo for time with the child
  • Which parent can get the child to any extracurricular activities the child is involved in
  • Which parent the child prefers to live with, though not required to go with the child’s preference

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to temporary custody is it’s not a final decision by any means. Just because you or your spouse was awarded temporary custody does not mean you can’t or won’t be awarded final custody after the divorce is finalized. If you were not given temporary custody of the child, you’ll have plenty of time to present additional evidence demonstrating why you should be granted custody after the divorce.

The other, less common custody arrangement that can happen while a divorce is ongoing is emergency custody. If one parent believes the child would be in danger by spending time with the other parent, they can file a petition for emergency custody with the courts. Judges do not grant emergency custody lightly, though. The parent who filed the petition would have to show the child is in danger of immediate, substantial harm.

How Could a Lawyer Help Me?

Getting help from a lawyer can give you a much better chance of getting temporary custody of your child while your divorce is ongoing. A divorce lawyer has special training and knowledge that can help you make a stronger case for custody by showing why you’re the better fit for your child as the divorce proceeds. An attorney can help find the evidence you need to support your petition and present that evidence in the most persuasive way possible.

A lawyer can also help by explaining some of the legal terms and definitions courts use when making custody decisions. If you have a better grasp of what’s happening with your case, you’ll be better equipped to show why you should have temporary custody of your child.

Contact McKeon Law Firm Today

The Gaithersburg family attorneys at the McKeon Law Firm have more than 30 years of combined experience and are well-equipped to handle your divorce case. Family law is the sole focus of our practice, giving us in-depth knowledge many firms with a broader focus lack. We will treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve as you navigate this difficult moment in your life. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.

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