“My ‘ex’ and I cannot agree on anything concerning our son, can I get ‘full’ custody now?” My daughter no longer wants to live with my ‘ex’ is she old enough to stop going there?”
When there is already an existing court order for custody the Order must be followed absent a danger to the child. If a change is requested the Court refers to the case as a modification or “MOD” case.” These cases usually go through the court process faster than the original case. In these cases, you must prove that an Order exists and that since the date of the last Order there has been a material change affecting the child best interests such that the old Order is no longer acceptable.
Agreement vs. Court Order: It takes two for an agreement to be reached.
Mulinazzi Law Office will help you attempt to change the custody schedule by agreement and outside of court but if the other side is not willing, our attorneys are accomplished litigators and ready to take the issue to Court.
“What is a material change?”
Still, not every change will suffice to modify the amount of child support – the change must be “material.” The lawyers at the Mulinazzi Law Office understand the finer points of the law and how the Magistrates and Judges interpret the law. We regularly work with clients to help them understand what constitutes a material change in circumstances.
Each case is different but some examples of material changes may include new situations involving:
- one parent moves too far away to get the child’s to school on time; or
- a change in the other parent’s work prohibits them from being available for the children (for long distance moves, see the “Relocation” webpage on this site);
- chronic upheaval in the household, esp. as a result of new family members;
- inability for parents to agree on important medical or educational decisions;
- substance abuse or physical impairment; or
- contempt or refusal by one parent to allow for reasonable changes to schedule
The attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office will listen to the details of your situation, suggest out of court ideas to solve the problem, and if the case must go to court, our attorneys have great success in dealing with cases Contact our Office to set up an appointment to speak with one of the *award winning* child custody attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office.
“What do I do if she is relocating ‘within’ the State but it’s too far away?”
“What do I do if my job relocates and my commute increases substantially?”
After divorce it is common for the other parent to relocate away from the former family home. But how far is too far? How can you share custodial time when she decided to move 30, 45, or 60 minutes away from the children’s school? Likewise, if your job commute increases and you can’t get home at the exchange time? These situations may require a change in the custodial schedule. If you and your ‘ex’ cannot work this out, you will need to prove to the Court that this is a substantial or “material” change that affects the best interests of the minor children in order to get a court order to change the schedule. There may be options for changing the schedule that you had not considered that result in a zero sum gain or loss in custodial time.
Cost vs. Benefit: We know legal representation is expensive and that going to court can seem like a bit of a gamble on the outcome. When it comes to changing a custodial schedule there are a number of cheaper and more family-friendly alternatives to litigation. Mulinazzi Law Office is known by the Judges and other lawyers as an Office that pursues family-centered outcomes. We always evaluate cases for the appropriateness of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such mediation, collaborative law, or the use of third-party expert neutrals such as therapists, child specialists, or other court services such as a Best Interests Attorney (BIA) or a custody evaluation. Our attorneys can explain these services and options in detail.
“If I lose time, will my child support increase?”
Generally it is true that child support is dependent upon custodial overnights, the amount and IF there is a change depends on how much time you had to start with and how much time you are losing as a result of the change. Discuss this situation with the attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office to quantify the change in child support. There may be savings elsewhere or no change at all.
“Will the Court order her to pay my legal fees for my custody modification case?”
Maryland Law does allow the Court to award attorney’s fees in custody cases. There are a few different factors that the Court considers. Some factors are financial and others are based on your justification for bringing or defending the action. In practice, Courts are usually more forgiving on the issue of attorney’s fees when it comes to a change in custody as opposed to a change in child support, but the Court will not let the other side bully you out of pursuing a change in custody just because you earn less money. The attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office are frequently awarded attorney’s fees in these types of cases from Courts in Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Montgomery, Carroll, and Prince George’s Counties. Our firm works with clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Fort Meade, Laurel, Odenton, Olney and nearby areas
If you want to work with an attorney who will help you change the custodial schedule for your child and do so in the best and least expensive way that preserves as much of the co-parenting relationship as possible, contact our firm online or call 410-290-6270 to schedule your appointment.