Can I file for custody?
I need help please. My kids are with me right now. They were staying with their mother but she was not paying any rent and the house she was living in was over loaded with other kids and adults. I want to know if I can get my kids and if they can stay with me.
If there is no Court Order in place regarding the custody of your children, then under Maryland law, both parents have equal rights to the children. If that is the case, you have the right to keep the children. However, it is best that you allow the other parent to have some time with the children rather than denying access all together. The Court wants to see evidence that parents are encouraging their children to have a relationship with the other parent.
You should then file a Petition for Custody with the Court as soon as possible. You can file in the county you live in, the county she lives in, or the county she works in. Establishing a custody and access schedule through a Court Order will provide protection for you and your children as there will be a specific schedule of when the children see both parents. A Court Order also provides you with remedies if the other parent does not comply with the Court Order.
If there is an existing Court Order, you are required to comply with the Court Order until it is modified by the Court. If you do not comply with the terms of the Court Order, you could be held in Contempt of Court.
If you are concerned that your children are in imminent danger while in the care of the other parent, you can request an emergency hearing to temporarily establish or modify custody. There are very specific requirements that must be met when filing for an emergency hearing. It would be beneficial to consult with a local attorney so you are informed about the procedural requirements, such as required noticed, and logistics regarding when emergency hearings occur.
If the situation does not rise to the level of requiring emergency relief, you can file to modify the custody and access schedule. You would need to prove a “material change in circumstances” affecting the minor children. The Court would then conduct an analysis regarding what custody and access schedule is in the children’s best interest.