Family law in Baltimore and throughout Maryland allows possible fathers to challenge paternity, regardless of whether or not they are married to the mother. Men may seek to establish paternity because they want to be sure that the child is theirs, while mothers may seek to establish paternity for the purpose of obtaining child support. Family law allows paternity to be legally established with an Affidavit of Parentage, which is a document that the father will sign while the new family is still at the hospital or birthing center. Family law requires that this document be signed in the presence of a notary public.
If the father isn’t completely sure that he is indeed the father, then he may wish to consult a family law attorney before signing this affidavit. The man who is presumed to be the father has the right to request a genetic test before signing it. If paternity is not established with an affidavit, then genetic testing may be requested. The parties can use a consent order to legally establish paternity when the probability of paternity as determined by the genetic test is higher than 99%.
In the Baltimore area, mediation is commonly used to settle disputes. This venue is appropriate for virtually all types of disputes , including those concerning inheritances. Often, these family conflicts arise when a will isn’t sufficiently specific about which items will go to which heirs or when the heirs are left confused about why the decedent made certain decisions. By turning to a mediation lawyer instead of resorting to litigation, families can maintain discretion while sorting through these matters. Ideally, mediation will also help preserve familial relationships.
During a mediation session for a will dispute, the mediator will strive to read between the lines. These disputes aren’t always about financial gain; heirs may argue over a particular item because of its sentimental value. Mediators cannot enforce binding agreements, but they can propose solutions that the heirs might not have thought of by themselves. Mediation enables heirs to work through their differences and agree to a compromise that will benefit each party.
Making the decision to adopt a child is a joyous occasion, but the process itself can often be tedious and confusing. If you intend to adopt a child, you can make an appointment with a lawyer in Baltimore who handles adoption cases. Your lawyer can walk you through the stages of the adoption process and provide legal representation if any problems arise.
The requirements to adopt a child in Maryland are not unnecessarily strict. However, an adoptive parent must be at least 21 years of age. Adoptive parents may be single or married. If married, then both adoptive parents will be joined to the petition unless the couple is separated or the other parent is not legally competent. It is not necessary for adoptive parents to be affluent; however, they must have the financial means to provide for the child. Adoptive parents may be renters or homeowners. It is required to complete a 27-hour home study course before adopting a child through a public agency.
Under Maryland family law, the legal guardians of the adoptee must provide consent for the adoption. The legal guardians may be the birth parents or the adoption agency. If the court has terminated parental rights, then only agency consent is required. If the adoption is an independent adoption, the adoptive parents must obtain the consent of all legal guardians. However, the consent of only one parent may be needed if the other parent cannot be located, does not object to a published notice of adoption, and has not been in contact with the department for a certain length of time.
A lawyer will file a petition for adoption with the court, which will likely include supporting documents. Once the petition is filed, the court will send a notice to all of the involved parties and their attorneys.
During the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the petition for adoption. If it is an independent adoption, the court might require an investigation prior to granting the petition. If the matter is being facilitated by a private adoption agency, then the agency will need to submit a report prior to the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will consider whether the petitioners are fit to be adoptive parents, whether all necessary paperwork has been completed, and whether being adopted is in the best interests of the adoptee.
Paternity plays an integral role in several areas of family law, including the provision of child support and the rights to visitation and input in important decisions regarding upbringing, health, and schooling. If you are concerned about paternity issues or seeking a parenting plan following a divorce that allows both parents to remain active in your child’s life, paternity mediation in Baltimore can help. During mediation, several important parental rights and responsibilities can be discussed and decided upon without the need to seek a court ruling on these matters.
Issues Addressed During Mediation
When a child is born to unmarried parents or when a couple with children opts for divorce, each parent inherently retains certain rights and responsibilities under family law. Regardless of whether both parents wish to actively co-parent the child or whether one parent retains the majority of the decision-making power, certain issues must be resolved such as child support, visitation, custody, medical care, and education. These issues can be discussed and resolved in private with the help of a mediation lawyer to ensure both parents are on the same page regarding rights and responsibilities. If the child’s paternity is in question, paternity mediation can also determine which parent should be responsible for the costs of paternity testing .
Benefits of Paternity Mediation
Seeking mediation to resolve paternity issues or come to an agreement regarding child care and child support is beneficial for several reasons. Mediation helps to foster cooperation between parents whenever possible, improving their relationship and fostering the ability to collaborate and reach agreements or address issues in the future. The process of mediation is also less costly and takes less time to reach a solution than taking the case to court. Mediation allows both parents to take an active role and get the answers they need while working toward an agreement that is best for the parents and the child, rather than requiring the parties involved to follow the mandate of a judge that has no personal stake in the situation.
Sometimes, part of child support and child custody cases involves addressing the issue of paternity. This area of family law can be difficult for everyone involved, but it is necessary in some cases to take this important step before any decisions about child support are made or after child support is in place but one parent has a doubt about paternity. Although some paternity tests are ordering the courtroom, disputes about paternity can also be addressed during mediation. Going to mediation in Baltimore to deal with questions surrounding paternity and child support is similar to any other mediation experience. If you have a mediation session planned, here are some tips for preparing.
Consider Your Personal Statement
Most mediation sessions begin with each party making a brief statement about the issues you hope to resolve during mediation and how you view the dispute from your perspective. Although you will be allowed to speak without interruption while making your statement, keep in mind that the other party’s attorney may be present and could use information shared in mediation in court should the negotiation fail. Talk through your statement with your lawyer to avoid any issues. For instance, if your stance is that a paternity test should be required, avoid saying anything that suggests that you know the child is yours.
Prepare for Questions
The mediator will likely ask both sides questions to gather information that could be helpful during the negotiation. These questions help the mediator identify possible solutions that could work for both sides. Remember that mediators do not provide legal advice. Your lawyer should be present at all mediation sessions in case you have legal questions and to review any documents before you sign them.
Be Open to the Process
Mediation is designed for both sides to come away feeling satisfied with the agreement. One side does not win while the other loses. Your lawyer can help you understand the strategies the mediator may use to help you reach an agreement. Remember that your paternity dispute is not resolved until an agreement is signed, so you have nothing to lose by entering negotiations.