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Know the Laws: Maryland

UPDATED April 19, 2017

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This page provides legal information on custody law in Maryland.  WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a lawyer or domestic violence organization in your area before proceeding with court action. To find help, please go to the MD Finding a Lawyer page.

 

Who might get custody or visitation

back to topCan a parent who committed domestic violence get custody or visitation?

When making a decision about custody or visitation, a judge will look at evidence of abuse (as defined by the law)* by either parent against:

  • the other parent of the child;
  • the parent’s spouse; or
  • any child living with the parent, including a child other than the child who is the subject of the custody or visitation proceeding.

If the judge believes that a parent has abused any of these people, the judge should decide the custody/visitation order in a way that best protects the child in the custody case and the adult who was abused.**

A parent who has been found guilty of murdering the child's other parent, another child of the parent, or any family member living with either parent or the child is generally not allowed to have custody or visitation of the child (although there may possibly be some exceptions).  However, if the judge thinks it is in the best interest of the child, s/he can order supervised visitation that protects the safety and emotional well-being of the child.***

* Md. Code, Fam. Law §§ 9-101.1(a); § 4-501(b)(1)
** Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9-101.1(b),(c)
*** Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9-101.2

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back to topCan a parent who committed child abuse or neglect get custody or visitation?

Maybe.  If a judge in a custody or visitation case believes that a parent has abused or neglected his/her child, then the judge has to decide if s/he believes that this is likely to happen again if the parent is given custody or visitation.  The judge must specifically determine that there is no likelihood of further child abuse or neglect in order to give custody or unsupervised visitation to the abusive parent.  However, even if the judge doesn’t grant custody or unsupervised visitation, the judge may grant supervised visitation if the safety and emotional well-being of the child can be protected during the visits.*  If you have evidence of abuse to you and/or your child, you (or your lawyer) may show this to the judge at the custody hearing.*

See also Can a parent who committed domestic violence get custody or visitation? for more information about how violence against any child in the household will be treated by the judge.

* Md. Code, Fam. Law, § 9-101

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back to topI am the child's grandparent. Can I get visitation?

Grandparents may be able to ask a judge for "reasonable visitation."  If the judge believes it is in the child's best interest, s/he may grant visitation rights.*  However, if the child’s parent doesn’t want the grandparent to get visitation, the grandparent may have to prove that the parent(s) denying him/her the visitation is unfit or that the child will be harmed in some way if the visitation is denied in order to get visitation.**

The People’s Law Library of Maryland website has additional information on grandparent visitation that you can read here.  For specific advice, please talk to a lawyer. Go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
 
* Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9-102
** Koshko v. Haining, 398 Md. 404, 921 A.2d 171 (Ct. of Appeals 2007)

 

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank Shannon Gaskin, the Managing Attorney at the House of Ruth in Maryland, for her assistance in an original version of this page.

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