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Elkton’s Premier Child Custody Attorney 

 Representing Cecil & Harford Counties 

Our Top-Rated Maryland Child Custody Attorney in Elkton, Maryland
Focuses on Protecting What's Important!

Child Custody Cecil County

Your children's welfare is paramount, whether it's during a divorce or a custody dispute. Establishing a comprehensive custody and visitation agreement in Maryland is key to reducing conflict and providing stability for your family.

At the Law Office of Chelsea M. Sadler LLC, we understand the difficulties couples face when trying to reach a custody agreement. Our priority is to help you design a plan that considers your children's best interests and addresses the unique dynamics of your family.

While we encourage parents to work together to create an agreement, we recognize that it's not always possible. In such cases, the court will step in and make a custody determination based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Rest assured, our experienced team is here to support you throughout the Maryland custody process. We will provide knowledgeable guidance, present compelling arguments, and fight to protect your children's well-being. Don't leave your children's future to chance. Contact us today to discuss your custody concerns, and let us assist you in creating a comprehensive agreement that sets the foundation for a harmonious co-parenting relationship.

There are two types of custody arrangements for children in Maryland:


Legal Custody and Physical Custody.

Legal Custody in Cecil & Harford Counties in Maryland

Legal custody addresses the question of which parent will make important decisions for their children. Important decisions include subjects such as non-emergency medical treatment, education, and religious upbringing. Although there is no presumption that joint legal custody is most appropriate, courts are inclined to award joint legal custody where the evidence demonstrates that parties can communicate effectively and reach shared decisions regarding their child or children.

Joint Legal Custody in Cecil & Harford Counties in Maryland

Where parties share joint legal custody, both parents have an obligation to inform and discuss important issues with the other parent before taking any affirmative action. In addition, both parents must agree on the course of action before it is initiated. For example, if one parent wants to place the child in psychological counseling, both parents must consent to such treatment before any provider begins therapy.

Sole Legal Custody in Cecil & Harford Counties in Maryland

Sole legal custody means that only one parent has sole decision-making authority regarding important decisions in the child's life. In a sole legal custody arrangement, the parent with legal custody must not consult with the other parent before making important decisions for their child.

Hybrids in Cecil & Harford Counties in Maryland

Under some circumstances, courts will award a hybrid of joint and sole legal custody. Hybrids can be specific to the final decision maker or divide up decision-making responsibility. For example:

1. The parties share joint legal custody, but in an impasse the mother has tie-breaking authority.
2. The parties have joint legal custody regarding religious and non-emergency medical treatment, but the father has sole legal custody concerning academic decisions.

Physical Custody in Cecil & Harford Counties in Maryland

Physical custody refers to where the child is physically spending his or her time. Physical custody and its various forms are referred to by many different labels, including, but not limited to, sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, and visitation.


The "Best Interest" of the Child

The court uses the "best interest" standard when deciding the custodial arrangements for children. In determining the best interest of a child, the court may consider the following factors, among others:

  • Fitness of the parent

  • Character and reputation of the parents

  • The willingness of each parent to share custody

  • Relationship between the child and each parent

  • Potential disruption of particular custody arrangement upon a child's social and school life

  • The geographic proximity of parents' homes

  • The desire of the natural parents and the terms of any agreements between them

  • The likelihood of maintaining natural family relations

  • The preference of a child when the child is of sufficient age and capacity to make a rational judgment

  • Opportunities affecting the future life of the child

  • Age, health, and gender of the child

  • Suitability of the homes of the parents and whether a non-custodial parent will have adequate opportunities for visitation

  • Length of time of any separation between a child and natural parent

  • Effect of any prior voluntary abandonment of the child

  • Demands of each parent's employment

  • The financial status of each parent

After the court determines what custodial arrangement is in the child's best interest, the judge will sign an order setting the terms of the arrangement. This order will govern the custodial arrangement until the child reaches 18 or until either parent seeks a modification of the custody order.


Modification of Custody Orders

The court can only modify a custody order if a parent is able to establish that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the last court order. A change in circumstances can be almost anything, but the moving party must establish that the change has some impact on the child's best interest. Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances may be the remarriage of a parent, the relocation of a parent, drug use of a parent, change in academic performance, or change in living conditions. Once the court determines that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, the court will reevaluate the current facts and make a new determination based on the child's best interest.

  • How will your estate be distributed if you die without a will?
    IF THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY: ​ Spouse and minor children of decedent — spouse receives one-half, children share remaining one-half Spouse and children (all adult) of the decedent—spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate; children divide balance (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Children only of the decedent — children divide entire estate (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Spouse and parents of the decedent — if married more than 5 years see No. 5, if married less than 5 years the spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate — both parents divide balance or surviving parent takes balance Spouse of the decedent without other heirs listed above — spouse receives entire estate Parents of the decedent without other heirs listed above — both parents divide entire estate or surviving parent takes all Brothers/sisters of the decedent without heirs listed above — brothers and sisters divide estate equally (share of deceased sibling goes to their issue - nieces and nephews of the decedent) Grandparents without other heirs listed above — grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue (see applicable law for details) Great-grandparents without other heirs listed above — great-grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue Stepchildren — if there are no heirs listed above No living heirs or stepchildren — if decedent was recipient of long-term care benefits under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program at time of death, net estate is paid to Department of Health. Otherwise, the net estate is paid to the Board of Education in the county of the decedent’s domicile ​ NOTE: “Child” does not include a stepchild or foster child
  • Does having a Will mean I can avoid probate in Maryland?
    Not always, but with careful planning, your beneficiaries might be able to avoid the probate procedure. Your estate plan will determine if probate is required.
  • What does a Maryland Probate Attorney do?
    As Maryland probate attorneys we offer families and individuals legal guidance and support during the estate administration process. In addition to assisting with the management of the estate's assets and liabilities, we often assist with the filing of wills and other legal documents. We also offer guidance on dealing with tax matters and allocating the estate's assets to the right beneficiaries. As Probate attorneys we can also be used to resolve beneficiary disputes as well as represent the estate in court, if necessary.
  • How much does probate cost?
    Probate Attorney Fees Maryland statutes spell out the fees and commissions estate attorneys may receive for normal administrative tasks. Any fees above the maximum permitted amount require approval by the Maryland Orphans Court. Fees within the standard range do not require court approval if all interested parties' consent. The state formula for attorney compensation is 9 percent of the first $20,000 of the gross estate and 3.6 percent of the amount over $20,000. For example, the standard attorney fee for an estate valued at $1 million is $37,080. That breaks down to $1,800 for the first $20,000 at 9 percent, and $35,280 for the remaining $980,000 at 3.6 percent. All such estate attorney fees are paid by the estate. The state formula is not the only option. Attorneys may also charge by the hour, and this arrangement is more efficient for many estates and personal representatives. As of January 1, 2023 our firm's hourly Estate Administration fee is $300 per hour we run the calculation of hourly vs. the state formula and whatever is less is what we charge. Probate Administration Fees Under Maryland law, probate and estate planning attorney fees are based on the total gross estate. For example, an estate valued at a minimum of $250,000 but less than $500,000 must pay $500 in fees, while an estate worth at least $500,000 but less than $750,000 owes $750. An estate worth $2 million but less than $5 million pays $2,500. Estates worth $5 million and up pay a $2,500 fee plus 0.2 percent on any excess over $5 million. These Maryland executor fees don’t include additional Letters of Administration, certified mail fees, filing a will for safekeeping, entering claims or caveat papers and plain, certified or exemplified copies. Attorney expenses not considered part of normal estate administration include: Copying and printing expenses Automobile mileage Court filing fees Bond premiums Messenger services. Extraordinary Services Common tasks falling outside the scope of normal estate administration but often undertaken by the probate attorney for additional fees upon request of the personal representative include: Leasing or sale of estate property Appearances before planning or zoning boards Recovering assets belonging to the estate held by another party Defense of tax audits Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can protect what's important to you.
  • How long does probate take in Maryland?
    In Maryland, the probate process can take a year or more. After the date of death, creditors have six months to file a claim. Probate must be open for at least six months after the assets have been divided so that a creditor can file a claim. If the will is challenged or other delays occur, it might take considerably longer. Even with a smaller inheritance, creditors must be given a minimum of seven to nine months' notice.
  • What are the responsibilities of a Personal Representative in a Maryland?
    As the personal representative of an estate during the Maryland Estate Probate Process, there are several key responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Here is a list of responsibilities for the personal representative: 1. Gather and safeguard estate assets: Identify, locate, and secure all assets owned by the decedent, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and other valuable possessions. 2. Prepare and file the Petition for Probate: Work with our attorney to prepare and file the Petition for Probate with the appropriate Maryland court to initiate the probate process and obtain legal authority to administer the estate. 3. Notify interested parties: Provide notice to beneficiaries named in the will, potential heirs, and known creditors about the probate proceedings and their rights within the process. This may include publishing a notice to creditors in a local newspaper. 4. Create and maintain detailed records: Keep accurate records of all financial transactions, including income, expenses, and distributions made during the probate process. This includes maintaining receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other relevant documents. 5. Inventory and appraisal: Work with our attorney to compile a comprehensive inventory of the decedent's assets and their values. This may involve obtaining appraisals for certain assets to determine their fair market value as of the date of death. 6. Settle outstanding debts: Notify creditors of the decedent's passing and review and validate any claims submitted. Negotiate and settle legitimate debts using available estate assets, ensuring the fair treatment of creditors. 7. File necessary tax returns: Collaborate with our attorney and potentially a tax professional to prepare and file any required tax returns, such as the federal estate tax return (Form 706) or Maryland estate tax return, if applicable. 8. Distribute assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts, taxes, and administrative expenses have been settled, distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or, in the absence of a will, in accordance with Maryland law. Ensure proper documentation and transfer of assets. 9. Prepare a final accounting: Work with the attorney to prepare a final accounting, which provides a detailed report of all financial transactions and distributions made during the probate process. 10. Obtain court approval and close the estate: Submit the final accounting and any other required documentation to the court for review and approval. Once the court approves, file the necessary paperwork to officially close the estate and be released from personal representative duties. It's important to note that the personal representative may have additional responsibilities based on the specific circumstances of the estate. Working closely with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help ensure that all responsibilities are fulfilled correctly and efficiently.

Over a Decade of Legal Experience

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Managing the legal aspects of your family can be time-consuming and confusing. Our firm's team is compassionate, professional, and works to ensure that you retain what matters to you and your family. 

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