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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Child Custody and the Child's Preference

Written by Amar Weisman » February 10, 2016 »

It is not uncommon to hear separating or divorcing parents arguing over who will have custody of the children. However, your Towson child custody lawyer knows that when it comes to custody issues, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County will base its decision on what is in the children’s best interests. While it is true that most courts favor joint legal custody and joint physical custody arrangements where possible, one parent or the other may be chosen, depending on the specific set of circumstances involved in the case.

But what if the children are older and want to have a say in whose home they are made to live-- should they be given that opportunity?

Can the Kids Change the Custody Arrangements?

Occasionally, the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore County will see children who want to make changes to their own custody agreement by asking to live with the mother instead of the father or vice versa. But can they actually do this? The quick answer is “yes.” The child can make the request, and in fact, depending on the child’s age, the court might seek comment from the child prior to establishing the custody arrangements.

According to the American Bar Association, the preference of a child can be used as the basis for seeking a custody modification. However, it should be noted that the child’s reasons for making the request must be legitimate and not simply a reaction to one parent or the other bribing or manipulating the child into making such a decision.

For example, a child expressed to his mother that he no longer wanted to live with her, but instead wanted to move in with the father. It was later learned that the father had been giving the child sizeable gifts, including a horse, TVs and other extravagant items. The judge heard the child’s request; however, it was denied, as all the gifts were deemed to have been bribes.

When it comes to young kids, they may or may not have a preference with respect to which parent they live with, or they might not be able to make the request with any great clarity. Nevertheless, as time goes by and the children get older, they will be able to make a conscious decision and express their preferences to each of their parents so the parents can then ask for the change on their behalf. In Maryland, children who are at least 16 years of age, however, can ASK the court for a change on their own, but they will need to prove that such a change would be in their best interest.

More on Adjusting Child Custody Arrangements

As a reminder to parents, under Maryland law, when a parent requests a custody modification, the burden is on that parent to demonstrate to the court why it should be changed. This is because the court finds stability to be an important part of a child’s life, and unless a parent can demonstrate that something in the child’s current environment will be harmful to his or her overall well being, there is no need in changing anything.

Making a custody modification is not all that simple either. You will need to prove that your home environment is better suited for the child than his or her current home.

Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation With a Bowleys Quarters & Towson Domestic Law Firm.

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore County & Harford County Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.