Of Counsel, Z Familly Law, LLC Rockville, Maryland Family Law Attorney Serving MontgomeryCounty and FrederickCounty
Restrictions on Custody and Visitation
One of the most difficult issues a parent faces is dealing with temporary or long-term parenting concerns that impact a child's safety and well-being. John Weaver has extensive experience addressing the sensitive issues involving fashioning appropriate restrictions and conditions on access to protect the best interests of minor children. Although the right of visitation is an important natural and legal right, and courts generally hold that access to both parents benefits children, visitation rights must yield to the child's welfare. Although the complete denial of visitation to a parent is rare, sometimes it is necessary for courts to set certain restrictions and limitations on parenting time (physical custody and visitation) in order to assure the safety and welfare of minor children. These restrictions seek to address such issues as:
· spouse abuse · child abuse · alcohol abuse and substance abuse · harmful exposure to the other parent's paramour or significant other · no smoking due to a child's asthma · mental health counseling and medication compliance · anger management · parent skills education · safe child transfer or transition between parents · advance notice of relocation · proper use of an infant or child car seat · interference with visitation and appropriate make-up visitation
Sometimes courts find it necessary to order supervised visitation, including through court-related supervised visitation programs. Custody and Visitation Restrictions contains a more detailed discussion of many of the various restrictions.
The Maryland Judiciary website contains a directory of court based domestic violence programs throughout Maryland. There are Abuser Intervention Programs in Maryland that are specifically designed as interventions for perpetrators of intimate partner abuse. Most of these programs are 26 weekly group sessions of one and one-half hours length, such as the Montgomery County DHHS Abused Persons Program (phone: 240-777-4210). These Abuser Intervention Programs focus on power and control issues in the intimate relationship, while anger management programs generally focus on anger control and avoiding outbursts of anger that lead to violence. Some providers of Abuser Intervention Programs also offer anger management programs.
Supervised Visitation.There may be situations where the court determines that supervised visitation is in the children's best interest. In some jurisdictions there may be a supervised visitation program in place. For example, see the Montgomery County Supervised Visitation Program Guidelines and sample Consent Order. The Supervised Visitation Program also has a phase-out or "Step Down" Plan for use in appropriate situations which is implemented pursuant to a "Step Down" Order entered by the Court. Any referral to the court's supervised visitation program must be through the court's protocol and procedures and subject to space availability. Where there is no available supervised visitation program, the visitation order should designate an appropriate neutral third party supervisor.
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John S. Weaver, Of Counsel
Z Family Law, LLC 51 Monroe Street, Suite 1501, Rockville, MD 20850