Obtaining legal and/or physical custody of your child can be a very emotional process. Understanding what steps to take in your custody case is important to ensuring a favorable outcome. Let’s take a look at what is involved, and how to establish paternity for child custody.
What Child Custody Options Do I Have?
- Physical Custody – Physical custody is obtained by the parent who will be physically residing with the child. This parent will also be responsible for short-term daily life decisions regarding the child.
- Legal Custody – Legal custody is the parent’s responsibility and authority over long-term decisions regarding the child’s life and upbringing (i.e. where he/she goes to school, healthcare responsibilities, etc.).
Physical and Legal Custody can be broken up into different types of shared responsibility between parents with regards to the previous categories:
- Sole Custody – one parent gets exclusive physical or residential custody, and the other parent has visitation
- Shared Custody – both parents have their own degree of responsibility over the children, and the children spend at least one third of the overnights of the year with one parent and the remaining time with the other parent. Shared custody can also mean each parent has half of the overnights of the year, or somewhere in between.
- Joint Legal Custody – both parents participate equally in the major decisions concerning the child’s health, education and general well-being.
- Sole Legal Custody – one parent makes the major decision concerning the child’s health, education and general well-being.
What Does it Mean to Establish Paternity?
When a child is born out of wedlock, the father is not automatically granted parental rights. Paternity must be established in order for important legal issues to be handled, including visitation and child support in addition to custody. You have a few different options for establishing paternity:
- If you are present for the birth of the child, you can include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You can also sign the certificate shortly after birth if you are not immediately present.
- Fill out and sign a Paternity Statement or Paternity Acknowledgement.
- Have a paternity test done. Your paternity can be established by either a buccal swab or blood/DNA test.
Talk with a Maryland Child Custody Lawyer
Remember: Consulting a legal professional before you begin the process of establishing paternity is one of the best ways to ensure that your custody agreement will result in a fair solution. Child custody lawyers are here to assist you with obtaining custody of your child, no matter how simple or difficult a task it might be in your particular case.
Looking for a reliable Maryland child custody lawyer?
Alan L. Billian, P.A. has been providing personal and professional legal services in Maryland for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on taking the time to get to know each of our clients personally in order to provide them with the best solutions possible. Contact us to learn more about the legal services we provide, or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.