Before filing for custody in Maryland, it is important to understand the process of filing for custody and what it means to start a custody case. While contested custody cases can be complex, there are a few basics that you should know before starting the process. Here are some frequently asked questions that the Greenberg Legal Group often receives about filing for custody in Maryland:
You start the process of filing for custody in Maryland by filing a Complaint for Custody with the Circuit Court which has jurisdiction over your case. By filing a Complaint for Custody, you are opening a custody case with the Circuit Court so that further proceedings can take place. Under Maryland law, the Complaint for Custody should include certain information about the child or children including, but not limited to, the name and age of each child as well as the places each child has lived in the previous five years (or since birth). Furthermore, the Complaint for Custody should include background details of the child’s life since birth and facts that have led to the Complaint for Custody being filed. The Complaint for Custody should also indicate whether or not there have been – or currently are – any other proceedings that you have participated in that could impact the current custody proceedings. Finally, the Complaint for Custody should state the relief that you are seeking from the Court with regard to physical custody, legal custody, child support and any other claims for relief.
When you file your Complaint for Custody, you must decide which county you want to file in. Of course, there are rules that govern which county or counties a person may file for custody in to ensure that the parties have a connection to the county in which the custody case is filed. Under Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 6-202 (5), the plaintiff may file for custody in the county in which the father, alleged father, or mother of the child resides, or where the child resides. These rules are in place to make sure that the jurisdiction that hears the custody case will have some connection to the child, either through one of the parents or the child directly.
Once the Complaint for Custody is filed, you will receive a Writ of Summons from the Court in which you filed the Complaint for Custody. You will need to have the opposing party served with the Writ of Summons and the initial court papers which will give them notice about the case. However, as the party that initially filed the Complaint for Custody, you are not personally allowed to serve the opposing party with the papers. There are a few different options you can choose from to serve the opposing party, such as the Sheriff’s Office, hiring a process server, or having someone over the age of eighteen (18) that is not involved with the case personally serve them.
Once the opposing party has been served, they will be required to file an answer to the Complaint for Custody. The amount of time that they have to file an answer will depend on the location where they were served. Under Maryland Circuit Court Rule § 2-321, if the opposing party is served in the Maryland, they will have 30 days to file an answer. If they are served outside of Maryland but still within the United States, they will have 60 days to file an answer. Finally, if the opposing party is served outside of the United States, they will have 90 days to file an answer to the Complaint for Custody.
Robert Greenberg, Esq. and the law firm of Greenberg Legal Group LLC have extensive experience representing clients in custody actions. Our firm is located in Annapolis, Maryland and practices in Courts throughout the State of Maryland. Please contact our office at (410) 650-4242 for further assistance.