Is Maryland a “Mother State”?
The term “mother state” refers to the long-outdated maternal preference doctrine, which was the past tendency of the courts to favor a mother over a father in child custody cases. This doctrine has been abolished in Maryland since 1974 because it allowed a mother to be awarded custody solely because of her sex.
That being said, some lawyers may claim that certain courts in Maryland, perhaps in more conservative jurisdictions, tend to be more aligned with mothers than fathers.
However, the law is clear in that each parent has, at least initially, equal footing in the custody decision process. Courts and judges make their decisions based on the evidence supporting each parent’s fitness and ability to care for the child and keep them safe.
Attorney Fred Coover of Coover Law Firm, LLC can assist you with any issue regarding child custody. He resolves custody disputes in an atmosphere of respect and sensitivity to the child’s needs.
Call (410) 553-5042 to schedule your consultation.
Who has custody before the court order?
Legally, both parents are the joint natural guardians of children under 18 years of age. In other words, unless there is physical or emotional abuse, both parents have legal responsibility for the child’s welfare, education, and support before the court decides which parent will have which type of custody.
While both parents have legal responsibility for the child, and can therefore both make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, the parent who has physical “possession” of the child at the moment will technically have custody of the child.
Click here to read more about who has custody if there is no court order.
Mother’s Rights in Child Custody
Legally, fathers who want custody of their children have the same chance as mothers who want custody. Mothers should never assume that they’ll be granted custody solely because of their sex.
In Maryland, there are only two situations in which a mother is guaranteed custody:
- Unmarried mothers are granted sole legal custody of their children until paternity is determined. When paternity is determined by the court, the father can then petition for custody.
- If the father violates a court order, the mother is granted custody if other guardian petitions (by the child’s grandmother, uncle, etc.) are absent. If the father of your child violated a court order, call the child custody lawyers at Coover Law Firm for legal help. We’ll file a motion for contempt of court and work to make sure the father complies with what the court has ordered them.
Father’s Rights in Child Custody
In Maryland, unmarried fathers have the same rights as married ones in child custody. Fathers who are married to the mother of their child already have paternity, but all unmarried fathers have to do to be granted paternity is get tested or show his Affidavit of Parentage form.
Additional paternal rights in Maryland include:
- Legal say in child’s upbringing – Even if the mother is granted sole custody, the father legally has a say in the child’s upbringing, including things like their religion, healthcare, and education. This is especially true if parents have joint legal custody of the child.
- Former transgressions and criminal convictions don’t necessarily prevent a father from obtaining custody. Except for the most severe or violent crimes, the court can give a formerly incarcerated or convicted father custody, or at least visitation rights, because courts make their decisions based on the child’s best interests.
In summary, parents can rest assured Maryland is not a “mother state.” Custody is granted to one or both parents who have demonstrated their ability to care for and keep their child safe.
If you have any questions about the custody process in Maryland, call Coover Law Firm at (410) 553-5042. We’ll work to resolve your custody issue smoothly and in the best interest of your child.
Click the links below to learn about other custody issues in Maryland.