Law & Legal & Attorney Children Law

How to Change From Sole Physical Custody to Shared in Maryland

    • 1). Gather documents from the original custody hearing. You will need a copy of the court order that granted sole physical custody in order to file a custody modification in Maryland.

    • 2). Complete "Form DOM REL 7" to petition the court to modify custody. Download this form from the Maryland Courts website (mdcourts.gov) or get a copy at your local circuit court. Fill it in completely, including your case number from your original child custody case and names of defendant and plaintiff. List your current address and the address of the other parent.

    • 3). Take the completed form to the circuit court clerk in the Maryland county in which you or your child lives. Make copies of your forms and pay a filing fee. In Maryland, the filing fee will vary based on your individual case and depending on your county. If you cannot afford the filing fee, ask the court to waive it.

    • 4). Receive your "Writ of Summons" from the clerk. In Maryland, the court clerk will prepare a "Writ of Summons" for you after you file your motion. Attach the summons to the motion you filed to serve to the other party.

    • 5). Serve the request for custody modification and summons to the opposing party. Have someone not connected to the case serve the forms or pay a small fee and have the sheriff's department in your Maryland county serve the paperwork. You may also have another adult mail the summons by certified mail to the opposing party. An affidavit must be completed certifying that the motion was served. Ask the court clerk for the affidavit.

    • 6). Attend your custody modification hearing. If you live in Maryland, you should receive a hearing date in the mail. The other party has 30 days after receiving the motion to answer. If you have not received a hearing date, contact the court clerk. At your hearing, provide evidence or witnesses for why you think you should have shared custody of your child. Submit evidence such as the child's grades if his grades have gotten worse under sole custody. Prove any changes in circumstances that make it in the child's best interest to have shared custody. For instance, if sole custody was granted because you had an addiction or mental problem, provide evidence of how you received help and have changed. Other circumstance changes could include employment, housing or relationships.

    • 7). Follow court's instructions. The judge may decide at the hearing or schedule additional hearings. Depending on the reason for sole custody, you may have to attend parenting classes or have a number of supervised visitations with your child first.

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