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What steps are involved in child custody and visitation cases?

Custody and visitation cases can be rather involved. After all, at the end of the day, parents and the court just want to make sure that the best decisions regarding the affected children are being made. For parents in Maryland, there are several steps involved in settling child custody and visitation cases. What exactly may some parents be asked to complete before such cases are finalized?

Child custody cases typically start with mediation. During mediation, both parents are asked to openly communicate about the custody and visitation arrangements each desires. Any issues can be addressed and, hopefully through negotiation, an acceptable plan can be created. While this process is typically done with the assistance of a mediator, each party is allowed to have legal representation present in order to assist. Any final decisions will have to be approved in court before a final custody or visitation order is granted.

If mediation is not entirely successful, it may be necessary for the court to intervene and make the final decision regarding custody and visitation arrangements. Before the court can make such a decision, custody evaluations may need to be completed. This involves a professional counselor being asked to interview and observe the parent-child relationship, investigate available living arrangements and review family history looking for potential signs of abuse, among other things.

Parents may also be asked to complete parenting or co-parenting classes, as well as seek assistance with parenting coordination. Doing each of these things can help parents communicate with each other and avoid any unnecessary conflict. Not only is this good for parents, but it also good for the emotional well-being of the affected children.

Child custody and visitation matters are often a big source of contention between parents. However, the state of Maryland has programs in place to help parents find solutions that take into consideration the best interests of everyone involved. An experienced attorney can assist parents in taking the appropriate steps toward achieving custody or visitation arrangements that fit their family's unique circumstances.

Source: courts.state.md.us, "Family: Child Custody & Visitation", Accessed on Aug. 10, 2016

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