spacer The Shame of Maryland Joint Custody Laws

Pam J.A. Issa

Joint Custody Agreements
The "System" Marches On
Update - December 30, 1998


     On November 9, 1998 I met with the court appointed psychologist and did the evaluation. When asked what the minimum I hoped for was I responded to simply have the custody order enforced. The maximum would be a change in custody.

     On November 14, 1998 the children still did not come down for visitation.

     On November 23, 1998 my ex-husband was scheduled for the Medical Service Evaluation as well as my children. The court appointed psychologist called me that afternoon and said that my ex-husband wanted to make up some time to me and would I be willing to let him drop the children off to me that afternoon.

     She had only met with my children for 15 the courts can expect to fully understand how a child feels in 15 minutes is beyond me, but I will remain optimistic. When I had spoken to the children on November 22, 1998 no mention of make up time was addressed with me by my ex-husband. What a snow job for the Medical Service Personnel.

     Of course I agreed to visit with the children for the week. This will probably be used to my detriment somehow since they missed school as a result.

     They at least were able to spend Thanksgiving with me as scheduled and we really enjoyed our time together. I made certain they visited with their paternal and maternal grandparents during this week since it is always hard to tell when the next time may be.


     On Christmas Eve my ex-husband failed to bring the children as scheduled. So again I spent the holiday without them although they were scheduled to be here from 12/24 at 9PM until 12/31 pursuant to the custody order. I will simply ammend the petition which is being heard in February because experience has taught me nothing would happen even if I went to the court system for an immediate remedy. The sad part is my children are the ones that suffer when they are denied the holidays with all of their family.


     We went to court today in reference to the incident in Hancock back on 10/30/98. We actually did not have faith going in to court today because of all the disappointments that have arisen over the years. This proved to be no exception.

     The State's Attorney called my brother, myself and his girlfriend to the witness stand first and we stated the incident as it had occurred. Next my ex-husband was on the stand to testify. His testimony matched ours with the exception of him denying actually having hit my brother. He admitted having put the car in gear and the car lurching forward, but denied that any impact had occurred prior to him putting on the breaks. He stated that I had been holding the car door keeping him from closing it as we exchanged words and I asked my daughter to go ahead and get out of the vehicle. He also stated that he had glanced forward and saw my brother standing a few feet in front of the car smoking a cigarette, while his wife was standing towards the front passenger side between the wheel and fender. All of this coincided with our testimonies.

     Once he was done after displaying some anger to the questions by the States Attorney, his wife then took the stand. Her version was completely different than all that had been heard by the court even her own husbands account done only moments before. She stated she was standing in front of the vehicle 6 inches from my brother as he yelled obscenities, laughing at her hitting on the car. Her husband's testimony was completely different.

     After she made her statements the States Attorney said to the court obviously the two of them had not spoken enough that morning prior to coming because of the vast differences in their testimonies. Even the public defender at that point had nothing further to say other than there was no intention to cause harm or injury on the part of his client. While the judge did admonish my ex-husband regarding his disregard of the court ordered visitation, due to the conflicting testimonies he found him NOT GUILTY. The State's Attorney himself could not understand the decision and apologized to us in the end.

     I have requested a copy of the taped testimony as well as a written transcript. Once it is reviewed by my attorney and we receive advise regarding the matter, we may forward it for judiciary review, but will definitely introduce it during the hearing in February.

     I still have not seen my children and really do not expect to until about two weeks prior to the hearing. He will definitely wish to come back into compliance with the order prior to the hearing.

Joint Custody Agreements
Church and State United - No Action
Update - November 5, 1998

T he State Nolle Proseque the harrassment charges my ex-husband filed against me today at the hearing...this means all charges were dismissed.

     The October hearing has been rescheduled for 2/17/99.

     My ex-husband continues to violate the custody agreement. The private investigator I hired to investigate whether he was still residing in the trailer after the court ordered him not to, has confirmed that he did in fact continue to reside there. I was due to have the children over the Halloween Weekend, however, he claimed car trouble so I met him in Hancock, MD (2 hr. drive).

     Once I arrived to get the children, he refused to allow them to go with me because I would not sign an agreement to transport them my custody agreement he is responsible for transportation. He jumped back in his car and floored his vehicle hitting my brother with his vehicle..My brother was not injured and has pressed formal charges against my ex-husband. My brother was standing back from the vehicle about 4 feet while I had been talking to my ex-husband at the car, when my ex-husband saw my brother's girlfriend run to phone the police he quickly exited the parking lot and fled the scene. I am not sure what if anything will come from this, but I definitely know this needs to end.

     I have received a letter from the Catholic Church in reference to my inquiry to them for support in changing the current laws, their response to the problem was to offer more pre-marital and marital counseling to avoid divorce on the whole.

     The Attorney General's office responded that they could not provide any direct assistance, but would support any legislation presented.

Joint Custody Agreements
When Will They Be Enforced?
Update - October 17, 1998

T he October 12, 1998 hearing that the courts initially scheduled after the June postponement was scheduled on a Holiday - Columbus Day. That hearing has been scheduled for October 26, 1998, but will be postponed because the Medical Service Evaluation and Court Appointed Attorney for the children has not been handled.

     I received a subponae last week regarding a harrassment charge my ex-husband filed against me. The basis of the harrassment is me filing Petitions of Contempt against him and the arrest warrant. The court commissioner who took his complaint scheduled a hearing for November 4, 1998. My attorney will be calling the State's Attorney's office to see if they are actually going to proceed with this hearing. I actually hope they will, because if they do I will be requesting a Jury Trial and this affords me the opportunity to review every previous Contempt Charge and Petition to Modify Custody before one judge.

     While the criminal judge cannot change anything in the Custody Case, it will at least give me the opportunity to increase awareness. My attorney seriously doubts the State's Attorney's office will proceed with a Harrassment Hearing regarding filing motions in a custody case, but it will be interesting if they do.

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