CUSTODY AGREEMENT

Parents that are planning to separate need to develop a Custody Agreement, which is also known as a Parenting Plan that address child support, legal custody and a time-sharing schedule that will promote the child’s best interest.

CHILD SUPPORT

Minor children need to be financially supported by both parents.  Each state has its own formula for calculating support.  In Maryland and DC, both parents will need to exchange (1) income information, (2) the cost of health care for the child and (3) daycare or after-care expenses, so that the child support calculations can be prepared.  The D.C. government provides a helpful on-line tool Child Support Guideline Calculator.

ACCESS SCHEDULE

The time-sharing schedule that works for one family may not work well for another, and a lot depends on the age of the children and any special needs that need to be considered.  Some parents have a very liberal access schedule, others prefer a more structured time-frame.  In order to have shared custody in either Maryland or DC, the court looks at the number of overnights each parent will have in a year.

BEST INTEREST ATTORNEY

(ALSO KNOWN AS CHILD’S ADVOCATE)

In contentious custody cases, the court may decide to appoint an experienced family law attorney trained in child advocacy to represent the child’s best interest.  The child’s advocate will meet with the child several times, typically including one visit to each parent’s home, and often contacts the child’s school, treating doctors, and other relevant individuals.  The child’s attorney can recommend a waiver of the therapist privilege, if appropriate, and may participate in all aspects of the case and call any witnesses to trial that will support his/her position of what is in the child’s best interest.