How the Right Argument or Evidence in Your Maryland Child Custody Case Can Still Be Wrong If It’s Presented at the Wrong Time

Having a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side in your child custody case can help you in a number of ways. That’s because there are a number of ways in which your case can go wrong if you lack the sort of effective legal counsel that your case needs.

Procedural mistakes, for example, can be devastating. You can have the strongest evidence possible or make the most compelling and persuasive argument possible, but if you have not met all of the requirements of the procedural rules, then that proof or argument may go for naught and you may still lose.

A case from Prince George’s County offers up a good example. In early 2016, a mother and a father reached an agreement on joint custody. A few months later, the judge decided that the mother had engaged in misconduct to deny the father visitation and ordered that the father receive sole legal and physical custody of the child, with the mother receiving only daily electronic contact via Skype or Facetime.

Several months after the court’s order, the mother filed a request seeking modification of custody. She argued that the court should give her sole legal and physical custody because the father had not facilitated her Skype/Facetime contacts on a consistent basis. The trial judge concluded that the mother had not proven that a “material change of circumstances” had occurred and didn’t demonstrate that the father willfully violated the court’s orders. Because the mother’s case lacked these critical pieces, the court rejected her request for a modification.

The mother appealed. In her appeal, she only made arguments about the court’s original decision awarding the father sole legal and physical custody. She made no arguments that the court erred in refusing her request to modify custody.

This was a severe procedural problem. She made no arguments asserting mistakes in the order she was challenging. She made lots of arguments, but they were all about why the award of sole custody to the father was wrong. The problem with that was that the time period for challenging that initial award of custody to the father had long since passed.

Maryland has strict rules limiting the time you have to appeal a judge’s order

The rules in Maryland only give you 30 days to appeal a judgment. In this case, the mother’s arguments about the award of sole custody to the father came well more than one month after the trial court issued that order. It did not matter how strong the mother’s argument were regarding the errors committed in the judge’s ruling giving the father sole custody. Even with airtight arguments demonstrating that granting the father sole custody was an error, the procedural rules said that the appeals court could not rule in the mother’s favor. That issue was not properly before the appeals court. For lack of taking the right steps procedurally, the mother’s appeal was lost.

In many areas of life, it may be beneficial that you “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Legal matters are rarely one of those areas. With something as important as your family on the line, never take chances. Make sure you have skillful legal representatives who know how to sweat all of the legal details. Contact experienced Maryland child custody attorney Anthony A. Fatemi for that kind of reliable advice and advocacy. To learn more, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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