Asked in Child Custody, Child Support and Family Law for Maryland

Q: Can my dad win my custody of me even tho he owes some child support money from previous years?

He has a debt because he had an injury and stop working, that formed into a debt. My mom is trying everything she can to not let me see him and now has an arrest warrant towards him. Since we live in different states if he were to travel to see me he will get arrested. I don’t want to live with my mom at all. She’s been both physically and emotionally abusive my whole live. My dad is going to court to fight for my custody. Does he have a chance? If not what can I do?. I don’t want this to affect my half brother from my moms side.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: If you are a minor child, so you are limited in what you can do. Your father's child support arrearage is not a bar to his having primary residential custody. Judges will start to take into consideration the wishes of the minor child at around age 12, and by 15 or 16, the child's preferences are given stronger consideration so far as which parent they want to live with, but the judge makes the final decision as to which parent would be the best custodial parent. You do not state your age. Typically, the only way a child's preferences or concerns are heard are through their personal therapist or psychologist, if they have one, whose reports will include them, or if the court appoints a "best interest" or "child advocacy" attorney for the child. An attorney can be appointed for the child at the discretion of the judge, either on its own determination that one is needed, or at the request of either parent. The parents then have to pay that attorney's hourly fees, typically split 50-50. You would then be able to tell your appointed attorney what you want to have happen and the concerns you have about either parent and their treatment of you, and your attorney will present those wishes and concerns to the court. You may try to communicate what you want to one or both of your parents, or to your therepist if you have one. I have heard of children in some custody battles writing directly to the judge in the case, but that is rare. Judges have the right--if they deem it appropriate because what each parent or their attorneys are saying about the child are so far apart--to meet privately with the child in a custody case to hear what the child wants or has to say, although that is also not common. In the end, the focus of all custody determinations are to reach a result that is in the best interests of the minor children, regardless of the parents' individual preferences.

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