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Child Custody, Support, Visitation and Use of the Marital Home

In a case involving custody and visitation, the court usually requires the parties to participate in at least two mediation sessions.

There is no presumption in favor of awarding custody to either spouse, and the court has wide discretion to act in the best interests of the children. Liberal visitation to the non-custodial parent is the norm.

Maryland has enacted statutory Child Support Guidelines, which are principally based upon the number of children, the income of each parent, work-related child care expenses and medical expenses. Although the court has the power to depart from the guidelines in an appropriate case, it is required to make a determination of the statutory amount and to explain the reasons for the departure.

In order to promote stability for the children, Maryland courts may award the use and possession of the family home to the custodial parent for a period of up to three years from the final decree. The court may divide the cost of maintaining the home between the parties based upon the equities of the case.

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