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Can a criminal conviction affect child custody in Maryland?

Most people consider child custody to be the most challenging aspect of family law because of the factors involved in custody cases. Not only are parents contending with their own feelings and beliefs regarding their right to see their children, they must also contend with their ex-spouse, who may not see custody negotiations as a friendly conversation but rather as a battle that must end in a winner.

While it's true that not all custody cases turn out to be contentious ones, a fair few do require the intervention of judges who then must decide what is in the best interests of the child. But as you probably realized, doing what is in a child's best interest comes with a level of discretion.

Parents who can't afford or choose to forgo obtaining a lawyer oftentimes find themselves at the mercy of judges who may not have the entire picture. Take for example a child custody case in which one of the parents served time for a criminal conviction. Should this influence a Maryland judge's custody decision? Let's take a look.

From petty crimes to felony charges, criminal convictions have been known to wreak havoc on a person's life. With this in mind, it's not difficult to see why some of our Columbia readers could be asking the question we're asking in today's post title. Unfortunately, the answer is not a straightforward one because it could change depending on the facts of the case.

Because Maryland judges need to consider what is in the best interest of the child during custody determinations, it's possible that a criminal conviction could impact a decision, especially if the charge suggests that the child could be put in harm's way because of the arrangement. This could be the case as well if a conviction comes after a custody determination has already been made. A modification could be requested, in which case the courts would need to determine if the conviction could play a role or not in the child's safety.

Because the custody of your child is hanging in the balance, any of our readers who are wondering this very question should speak to a knowledgeable family law attorney who understands how an issue like this could affect custody of a child. Because the choice not to, could have negative consequences later on.

Source: The People's Library of Maryland, "Child Custody in Maryland," Accessed May 13, 2015

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