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Setting the record straight on erroneous child custody beliefs

Some misconceptions exist about child custody. Indeed, the new world of separate parenting may actually look quite different from imagined at first. The issues surrounding child custody proceedings are not tied to one geographic area, and the general principles that govern these matters are valid throughout the country, including in Maryland.

It is no longer a given that courts will simply award custody to the mother. Much has changed in American society over the past few decades, and judges now focus on making a concerted effort to see that children are raised by both parents as much as possible. The reality is that many fathers are more involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting. However, because so many fathers are hands-on with child responsibilities, some parents may think they can handle a shared custody agreement verbally without needing to have a formal, written plan to handle unforeseen situations.

In fact, when a special occasion for the child arises, the parents may find that they are at a contentious stalemate regarding which party may win out. At times like these, the benefits of having a written agreement in place may save a scramble to contact a judge to settle the matter. In addition, another scenario that may lead to serious conflict is the ability to separate custody and child support payment issues. These two matters must be approached without prejudice if the noncustodial parent fails to make timely support payments. In the absence of a court order, the parent with primary custody is not permitted to suspend visitation or shared custody as retribution for late or missing support.

Many parents facing these issues are discovering new insights into the way child custody issues are handled currently. Many families, including those in Maryland, may choose to take these points into consideration when making preliminary decisions concerning how their children might be raised after their divorce or similar family change. There are also resources that can be consulted for information concerning what decisions might be best for a particular family's needs.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Five Custody Myths Separating Parents Need to Know", Carla Schiff Donnelly, June 5, 2014

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