Courts can Award Joint Custody Without a Request of the Parties

Courts can Award Joint Custody Without a Request of the Parties

In Maryland, the court can upon hearing testimony and considering the best interests of the children award joint custody even though neither party requested it. Kerns v. Kerns, 474 A.2d 925, 59 Md.App. 87 (Md. App., 1984). T

he case involved two children and an acrimonious separation. Pursuant to a pendent lite order one child resided with each party at the time of the hearing. Neither party requested joint custody.  In addition, the court held that there was no need to show a material change in circumstances in order for the court to order custody terms that were different from the temporary or pendente lite order in place during the case. The pendente lite order was to remain effective only until there was a final order in the custody dispute.  A pendente lite order is a court order issued upon a party’s request to address child custody and support issues while the main case is pending.

This matter is just as hotly contented as a hearing on permanent custody because it is both a preview of the main case and also, is often viewed by the parties, as a skirmish before the big battle. These hearings are usually short in most cases but certainly can last as long as necessary in complicated cases involved abuse. The court simultaneously issues a child support order if one is warranted.  A pendente lite order can also be issued in a case involving alimony to afford one spouse financial assistance during the pendency of the divorce case. At the pendente hearing you are going to need show why the children should live with you and not the other party.

For child support, you will need proof of your income and that of the other party as well as proof of expenses such as private school fees, health insurance, out of pocked medical expense for your children. This information is required in order to calculate the appropriate child support amount for each parent.

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