Jasmine from Baltimore, MD writes:
My 5 yr old son's father filed to modify custody and is claiming I am not providing financially for him, that I allow my mother to make parental decisions as far as his visitation goes, and that we are alienating him. My son and I live with my parents and they do provide financially for us, we do co-sleep but it's never been a problem for my son. I am not currently employed because I have been a stay at home parent. Could I lose primary custody because I live with my family?
The fact that your son's father has filed to modify custody means that it is his initial burden to prove there has been a material change in circumstances and then if the court finds that there has been a material change in circumstances, the court will next consider what is in the minor child's best interest. The fact that your parents provide financial support is not really a determining factor, but because there are about a dozen the court look at, it is still possible to lose custody of your son. If your son's father convinces the court there has been a material change, you must ask what are the other reasons he might get custody.
The factors the court will consider are:
a Fitness of the parents
b Character and reputation of the parties
c Desire of the natural parents and consent agreements if any
d Potential for maintaining natural family relations
e Preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to form rational judgment
f Any material opportunities affecting the future life of the child
g Age, health and sex of the child
h Suitability of the residences of the parents and whether or not the non-custodial parent will have adequate opportunity for visitation
I How long the child has been separated from a natural parent who is seeking custody
j The effect of prior voluntary abandonment or surrender of custody of the child
k Best interest of the child
These factors are further explained in the case Taylor v. Taylor
a Willingness of each parent to share custody
b Psychological and physical fitness of each parent
c Strength of the relationship of child with each parent
d Potential disruption of shared physical custody upon child's social and school life
e Geographic proximity of parent's homes
f Demands of parental employment
g Age and number of children involved
h Sincerity (motivation) of parent's requests
I Financial Status of the parents
j Impact on state and federal assistance
k Benefit to parents
l Other Factors
These are the factors you need to focus on for your upcoming hearing.
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