Navigating the legal system within the area of family law can be incredibly challenging, especially if you're not used to the nomenclature used in the law and are as confused by it as most other people. On top of confusingly worded laws, Marylanders have to contend with the fact that our laws are always subject to change.
Many couples in Maryland choose adoption as a way to grow their family. In some cases, it's because the couple is not able to have children of their own. For others, adoption is a great way to give a child in need a home. Whatever the reason, couples, as well as individuals, need to consider whether they will start the adoption process through a public or private agency. That's because, once the process has been started by signing a contract, adopters are prohibited by law to begin negotiations with another agency.
If you read our May 28 post entitled, "What can I expect in a Maryland divorce?" then you know that couples in our state who cannot establish grounds for the dissolution of their marriage must remain separated for 12 consecutive months before filing for divorce. During this period of separation, couples can decide things like how to separate marital property and even custody arrangements. But as some of our Columbia readers know, not every separation leads to divorce.
When there are instances of neglect or abuse of a child in a household, the Maryland Department of Social Services may be contacted. If a DSS worker deems the household unfit for the child, then he or she may be removed from their parents' custody. Depending on the circumstances, a child may then be placed in foster care where they may remain for an undeterminable amount of time.
If you're a regular reader of our blog posts then you know that we have touched several times on the topic of prenuptial agreements, particularly their usefulness when it comes to divorce. But while we may have answered a number of questions through these posts, we realize there is an important question we have not touched on yet and it happens to be the one we're asking in today's post title:
Most people think that when couples have experienced a considerable amount of marital problems that the logical next step is to file for divorce. Though this may be true for some, this isn't always the first thought for all couples. In some cases, a couple may hesitate to file for divorce because of personal or religious convictions. In other cases, a couple may try to postpone filing for divorce because they have the hope that they can work through their marital problems without having to resort to dissolving their marriage.
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.
If you've been following the news lately about the legalization of same-sex marriages in other states, you may have come across stories that have talked about the related legal issues the state's legislatures must also address such as divorce, child custody and adoptions. After reading these stories, one can't help but remember when our own state legislature faced the same challenging task.
Although divorce is difficult for all parties, it is possible for parents to establish a plan that protects the best interests of any children involved. It may be difficult to share parenting after a divorce, but parents have the opportunity to be consistent and loving, even if they do not get along with their ex-spouse. The needs of the children should come first, and any parenting plan submitted to a family court for approval should reflect this.