The Daily Record reports that the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has decided to vacate the Baltimore County Circuit Court’s decision to allow Larissa S. to visit with her ex-partner Melissa B.’s eight year old son. The couple dated for seven years, before deciding to have a child in 2001, through the help of a friend. After the couple broke up in 2002, Melissa gave birth to a second child. Larissa never adopted either child, but visited with both boys from 2002-2005 until she was denied access, which triggered her to file for visitation rights.
The Baltimore County Circuit Court, namely Judge Daniels, after much back and forth with Maryland’s higher court, found that the third party exceptional circumstances standard was met in this case, and therefore, ordered that there should be visitation between Larissa and the eldest child. For more information regarding third party custody and the exceptional circumstances standard see the August 11, 2009 blog. The Court of Special Appeals found that the lower court erred in finding exceptional circumstances because the Judge improperly refused to hear evidence from Melissa about the potential effects that this visitation with Larissa could have on her eldest son. Such new evidence could include the time that Larissa has been absent from the child’s life, due to this ongoing litigation. The case will return to Baltimore County Circuit Court where a judge will have to listen to all evidence to determine whether exceptional circumstances exist to order visitation between Larissa and the child.