Resolving family law disputes by agreement can often be a useful and beneficial means of arriving at an outcome. For some parents, resolution by agreement gives them a greater sense of control and makes the outcome more lasting. Even if you intend to try to resolve your family law dispute through agreement, it is worthwhile to have legal representation by an experienced Maryland child custody attorney. Your legal counsel can help make sure any agreement you sign adequately protects your relationship with your child, and they can also assist you if litigation is necessary at a future date.
When you decide to resolve your family law dispute through a mutual agreement, it is very important to understand exactly which rights the agreement does and does not give you. Here’s an example from a recent case. Russell and Marie were a couple who married in 2014 and had a son in late 2015. Sometime shortly after the child’s birth, the mother informed the father that, due to the father’s drug use, the mother was leaving the couple’s home in Maryland and moving in with her mother in Texas. She was also taking the child with her.
Shortly after that, the father went to court, requesting an order of custody and child support. He also asked the court to bar the mother from taking the child out of Maryland “until further order” of the court. The mother also asked the court for an order of custody, child support, and express permission to move the child to Houston.
The parents were eventually able to work out their custody issues and entered into an agreement that addressed custody, visitation, and relocation. Russell and Marie’s agreement, which was made effective through a consent custody order of the court, said that the father would perform random drug testing. If the father failed a test, that failure would allow the mother to assume temporary sole legal custody. In the event that happened, the mother “may at her option and at her risk move to Houston, TX with the minor child and access will be supervised in Houston until further agreement or order of court.”
Six months after the parents signed the agreement, the mother, a registered nurse, received an offer of employment in Houston that paid more than she was making in Maryland. The mother told the father that she and the child intended to move to Texas. The father went back to court to argue that this move was not allowed.
The court agreed with the father. The problem the mother faced was the way in which her custody agreement was structured. The agreement stated that she could move the child to Texas, but she could only do so if a change of circumstances occurred in the form of the father failing a drug test. The father hadn’t failed any drug tests, so the agreement as written didn’t allow for the mother to move the child. She still had the ability to move herself and the child to Texas, but, in order to do so, she had to file a motion asking the court to modify the consent order that had put the couple’s custody agreement into effect. She hadn’t made this motion, so the move was not yet permissible.
What this litigation proves is that every desired outcome in your family law case has a proper technique for getting you to that outcome, and, if your ex-spouse does not follow the correct procedures, you may be able to win a favorable outcome in your case. For reliable representation in your child custody or divorce case, reach out to experienced Maryland child custody attorney Anthony A. Fatemi. Our office has been helping clients achieve beneficial results in their family law cases for many years. To find out how we can help you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
More blog posts:
Your Children’s Education and a ‘Material Change of Circumstances’ in a Maryland Custody Case, Maryland Divorce Lawyer Blog, May 15, 2017
How Your Move Can Impact Your Child Custody and Visitation Arrangement in Maryland, Maryland Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 23, 2017