There are typically two sets of custody orders issued throughout the protracted process when a couple with minor children divorces in Maryland. The courts will typically issue a temporary order on the day that one spouse files for divorce. They will later issue a final order at the end of divorce proceedings, which many people view as a permanent determination.
However, the family courts in Maryland readily acknowledge that family circumstances can change, potentially necessitating adjustments to your custody arrangements or parenting plan. A parent whose circumstances at the time of the divorce precluded fully shared custody could improve their situation and be better suited to co-parenting after the divorce.
If you have only visitation or if your ex has substantially more parenting time or sole legal custody while you only share physical custody, you may be able to request a custody modification that allocates more parental responsibilities and parenting time to you. You deserve to spend time with your children and to have a say in the decisions that impact the course of their lives.
What factors influence the original order?
The courts will always try to make custody decisions that are in the best interests of the children, so you will typically need to show that expanding your parenting time or authority will benefit your kids. When trying to decide if you have a good chance at securing a modification and more time with your children, it makes sense to carefully review the factors that influenced the original custody determination.
Were you working a lot of hours or dealing with an unstable living situation, such as a long-term room in a motel? Not having enough space for your children or struggling with your mental health could be reason enough for the courts to minimize your parental authority or parenting time immediately after the divorce.
Showing that you’ve taken steps to make things more stable such as reducing the number of hours that you work or going to counseling to help you adjust to life after your divorce could demonstrate to the court that you have committed to working toward improving yourself and supporting your children.
Provided that you have the facilities, time and mental health to adequately parent, a modification could be a way to adjust the custody order in your favor and protect your relationship with your children.