If one parent seeks to modify custody and files a modification case with the Court, the other party must respond. If the other party does not respond and participate in the case, there is a big risk that the Court will grant the other party what they are asking for without any opposition. Therefore, even if you do not believe a modification is appropriate but the other party starts a modification case, it is extremely important that you defend against that party’s case and attempt to keep the current custody schedule in place.
At the end of the case, either party has the right to appeal the decision of the Magistrate or the Judge. In Maryland, many custody cases and family law cases are heard by Magistrates. Magistrates have the authority to hear family law cases, make factual findings and recommendations and report these findings and recommendations to a Judge. Unless there has been a significant error, the Judge will often approve the Magistrate’s findings and recommendations.
After a Magistrate makes their findings and recommendations, they will issue a written report. The parties have a period to file “exceptions” – which is essentially an appeal of the Magistrate’s findings or recommendations. Therefore, the parties have an option to appeal if a Magistrate hears their case.
Similarly, if a Judge heard the case, the parties also have an appeal option. However, the procedure for appealing the case is different. If a Judge heard the case and one party wishes to appeal, that party can appeal the decision to the appellate court—namely, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. Thus, there are appeal processes available for parties who do not agree with the decision rendered by either the Magistrate or the Judge. However, it is important to understand that appeals are not very easy to accomplish. The standard of review for most appeals requires the appellant to show a legal error that the Court made which warrants the Court’s decision being overturned or revisited. So, just because one party doesn’t like or agree with an outcome, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a basis for an appeal.
Why In Your Experience Do You Think It’s So Important That Parents Try Their Best To Avoid These Unnecessary Modification Requests Or Changes To Their Child’s Daily Life If Possible?
It’s best to avoid unnecessary modification requests because parents generally want to stay out of the courtroom as much as possible. Anytime you are at odds with the other parent about a modification or a custody issue, you want to try to work out those differences without involving the Courts. The Courts are there to serve people if they have disagreements that they can’t resolve. However, there are downsides to litigating these cases. Highly-contested cases can be costly, time-consuming and stressful for both parties involved. Therefore, the more parents can work together on these issues, the better off they will be. From an attorney’s perspective, it also seems that clients are generally happier and better off when they can have productive discussions and resolve issues independently. It is important to have an attorney who is both creative in their approach to resolving your case while also prepared to litigate your case, if necessary.
Do I Have To Like My Child’s Other Parent? Do We Have To Be Friends To Provide The Stability A Child Needs?
You do not have to like or be friends with your co-parent to provide the stability a child needs. Nothing under the law states you must like the other parent or be friends with them. Certainly, liking the other person or even being friends with them might make co-parenting more manageable, but there is no requirement under the law that this be the case. With that said, it is important that each parent respect each other and there be a degree of understanding when it comes to contrasting opinions or perspectives. Even when parties are required to hire attorneys to resolve their legal disagreements, it is still encouraged that there be a sense of decorum between the parties.
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