FAQ: Child Custody and Support

  1. What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
  2. My ex wants joint custody—should I agree to this?
  3. What factors do courts consider when deciding on custody?
  4. If my ex failed a drug test, can I get custody?
  5. If my ex got arrested or is going to prison, can I get custody?
  6. If my ex wants to move to another state, can I stop them from moving?
  7. If my ex wants to put our kids in another school, what can I do?
  8. What can I do if my ex stopped paying child support?
  9. If my income decreased, can I change how much I pay in child support?
  10. If my ex is trying to stop my visitation, what can I do?
  11. If my children are over 18 now, but my ex still owes me child support, can I get that money back?
  12. How can I stop my ex from having visitation?
  13. If my ex gets deployed, can I get custody of our children?
  14. What factors determine how much child support someone has to pay?
  15. Can I evict someone from my house?
  16. If I have custody and want to stay in our house after the divorce, what can I do?
  17. Why should I choose Trunnell Law to represent me in my domestic case?

1. What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

Physical custody is where the children actually spend the night at a residence, while legal custody involves making decisions about the children.

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2. My ex wants joint custody—should I agree to this?

It depends on what type of custody we are talking about. Is it legal custody or physical custody? Before agreeing to any type of custody arrangement with your significant other, it is very important that you see an experienced attorney.

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3. What factors do courts consider when deciding on custody?

The following factors help the courts determine custody in a case:

  • The fitness of the parties;
  • The character and reputation of the parties;
  • The desire of the natural parent;
  • Any agreement between the parties;
  • The potentiality of maintaining natural family relations;
  • The preference of the child in some cases;
  • Any material opportunities affecting the future life of the child;
  • The suitability of the residents of each parent;
  • Whether the non-custodial parent will have adequate opportunities for visitation;
  • How long the child has been separated from a natural parent who is seeking custody, and;
  • The effects of prior voluntary abandonment or surrender of custody of the child.

The judge will evaluate all of these factors using Maryland’s "best interest of the child" legal standard. An experienced domestic attorney increases your chances of proving in court that it is in the best interest of your child or children to be in your custody. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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4. If my ex failed a drug test, can I get custody?

Normally, someone who takes drugs is not necessarily a candidate for custody of their children. Courts will sometimes overlook an isolated drug test if the person has shown that he or she is no longer using drugs and has gotten help for his or her addiction. If the person with custody of your children abuses drugs, Trunnell Law can help you petition to the Court to get custody.

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5. If my ex got arrested or is going to prison, can I get custody?

Obviously if a person is in prison they cannot have custody of their kids. At the same time, the simple fact that someone was arrested will not necessarily keep them from having custody of their children. It all comes down to the best interest of the child. Each circumstance is fact-specific, and an experienced domestic attorney can advise you of your rights in situations like this.

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6. If my ex wants to move to another state, can I stop them from moving?

Anytime you think the other parent of your child is thinking of moving to another state, you should immediately come in and meet with an attorney. There are ways to stop them from relocating, but you have to see an attorney immediately once it is determined that that person wants to leave the state or has left the state.

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7. If my ex wants to put our kids in another school, what can I do?

First off, it is possible that it is in the best interest of your child that he or she go to a different school. You should first discuss it with the other parent, but if you do not agree with what the other parent has to say you should contact an attorney and discuss it immediately. A child’s education is extremely important, and sometimes considerations other than the best interest of the child influence the other party’s decisions.

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8. What can I do if my ex stopped paying child support?

That depends on whether or not your child support is being collected through the office of child support enforcement. If it is, you need to contact the office of child support enforcement. If it is not, you can always petition the court for the office of child support enforcement to take over your case or alternatively, file a motion for contempt if there is a court order is place ordering the other parent to pay you child support. Trunnell Law has significant experience using the courts to force parents who abandon their obligations to pay the child support that is owed. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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9. If my income decreased, can I change how much I pay in child support?

If your income has significantly decreased, the first thing you should do is come see a lawyer so that the lawyer can run child support guidelines. Once the lawyer runs the child support guidelines, it will be determined to what extent you can get a reduction in your child support. If you income has decreased significantly, often a small investment in an experienced domestic attorney can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.

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10. If my ex is trying to stop my visitation, what can I do?

That depends on whether there is a court order in place for visitation. If there is a court order in place for visitation, you can file for contempt and potentially even ask for jail time. If there is not an order in effect, you need to file a petition with the court asking a judge to establish the access rights of both parties.

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11. If my children are over 18 now, but my ex still owes me child support, can I get that money back?

Definitely. Not only can you recoup the money, but judgments for child support are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Experienced domestic attorneys increase the likelihood of collecting the money owed from the other parent.

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12. How can I stop my ex from having visitation?

If it is unsafe for the children to be with the other parent, you should in extreme cases call 911. If it is not so extreme that you need to call 911, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine whether or not you have the grounds to stop that person from seeing your child.

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13. If my ex gets deployed, can I get custody of our children?

Normally, the person who is not deployed will at the very least have temporary custody. Because the person is in the military and because they might have some defenses once deployed to court actions being filed against them, it is best to immediately contact a lawyer if you know that the parent of your child is being deployed. Time is of the essence in situations like this.

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14. What factors determine how much child support someone has to pay?

For the most part, it depends on how much income each parent earns and the sum of the expenses for the children such as work-related daycare, medical expenses and medical insurance.

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15. Can I evict someone from my house?

Generally you can evict someone from a home if they are not on the deed, lease agreement or mortgage. Those documents generally grant someone the right of possession in a residence, and if someone without a legal right of possession is living in a home, that person can generally be evicted.

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16. If I have custody and want to stay in our house after the divorce, what can I do?

If you have joint or primary physical custody of your children the court allows for you to stay in your house for up to three years after the date of divorce. An experienced domestic attorney can help you obtain use and possession of the house after the divorce is finalized.

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17. Why should I choose Trunnell Law to represent me in my domestic case?

The attorneys at Trunnell Law have the experience, aggressiveness and compassion to handle your case effectively. At Trunnell Law we pride ourselves in giving sound legal advice and helping you get through one of the most difficult situations you will ever face. While we want to do what is best for you, we at Trunnell Law also believe that what is in the best interest for the children is paramount. We will counsel you as part of your domestic action to always do what is best for your children.

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