Child custody is often characterized as a tug-of-war between two parents with a child in the middle. Each party tries to strategize and present themselves in the best light so that they achieve the outcome they desire. Although the best interest of the child is supposed to be the standard that governs child custody negotiations, the battle between the parents can sometimes be about fulfilling their own needs rather than making a choice that is best for the child.
Even after the parents have prepared their custody agreement, the judge will review it to ensure that the child’s best interests have been considered. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when deciding child custody. Of course, there is a world of difference between a child expressing their preference and actually choosing which parent they prefer to live with. A judge may listen to what a child who is eight or nine years old and older has to say, and that judge can take it under advisement as they consider all of the other factors in deciding custody. The judge may choose to interview the child away from the presence of the parents. This session can be recorded or transcribed so that the parents can listen to it or read the transcript later.
A child can express his or her wishes about which parent to live with, but the judge will make the ultimate determination.
Changing the custody agreement
Once the child reaches the age of 16, if he or she is not happy with the current custody arrangement, the child can petition the court to request a change. Children must be able to prove that the change in custody that they are requesting truly is in their best interest. The judge will ultimately render a ruling that they believe would be the best arrangement for the child.
Custody decisions are modifiable. If a child feels the custody arrangement is not in their best interest, the court will listen to their request, and render a decision. Your Maryland child custody attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC can advise you about child custody modifications and any other issues pertaining to divorce.
Child custody is often a contentious issue, but the family law attorneys at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC have more than 30 years of combined experience representing countless families just like yours throughout Maryland. You are welcome to contact us to reserve a consultation today at our Annapolis-based office.