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Governor O'Malley forms commission to study child custody law

Readers of this blog know divorce can bring on a whole host of hotly contested legal issues. A splitting couple might fight over how to divide property, arrange child support, and whether spousal support is necessary. But one issue this is often at the forefront of parents' concerns is child custody. Many parental issues along with past and present parenting ability can come into play when a determination is to be made. While this area of law is focused on the child's best interest, the state of Maryland is looking into whether the law is functioning properly.

Governor Martin O'Malley has appointed a 20-member commission to study the decision making process involved with child custody. The study will focus on many areas of child custody including parent-child relationships, equitable rights, ways of reducing litigation, and the effects of joint custody on children. Various sources will be analyzed, including laws in surrounding states, in an effort to determine if Maryland's laws need to be revised to improve the system. The final report is scheduled to be delivered to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 2014.

Until this study is concluded and the findings are interpreted, the law will remain the same. This means parents have two options. First, they can seek to negotiate a child custody arrangement amongst themselves. This may lead to joint custody with equal visitation or any other number of possibilities the parties agree to. Second, if a negotiation is fruitless, the parents can present their arguments in front of a judge who will be the sole decider of the matter.

Either way, a Maryland family law attorney can be a powerful ally. In negotiations, an attorney can help ensure the process remains civil and seek a fair resolution that retains both the child and the parent's best interests. If negotiation is not an option, then a family law attorney can develop the best legal arguments possible to establish the parent is fit for attaining child custody and he or she is best suited to care for the child.

While divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage between two people, it can also wreak havoc on a child's life. For this reason, focus should and will remain on the child's best interest. If and until the law changes, an experienced attorney will fight to ensure these interests remain the top priority.

Source: Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, "Harris named to commission to study child custody issues," Oct. 4, 2013

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