Child custody is a significant concern for many parents facing a divorce, including parents divorcing in Maryland. Family law resources are available in every state to help guide divorcing parents through their child custody concerns and they should be familiar with what those resources are and how they can help.
There are different types of child custody arrangements and joint custody arrangements are an option in Maryland. Both physical custody and legal custody of the child must be determined. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with and legal custody refers to who makes important decisions for the child such as education, religion and health care decisions. The family law process can help divorcing couples resolve these concerns and develop a child custody arrangement.
When determining child custody, the family law court seeks to determine what is in the best interests of the child. To do this, the court is permitted to consider any factors it considers relevant, paying special attention to considerations impacting the child's overall well being and safety.
Factors the family law court may consider when determining what is in the best interests of the child include the need for continuity and consistency related to education, community and family life; relationships with siblings; which parent takes care of the daily needs of the child, including physical, emotional, educational, developmental and any special needs of the child; and which parent is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child. Though the child's wishes are not considered in Maryland when determining child custody, children over 16 can petition for a custody change.
Likewise, the family law process provides resources for families seeking to modify a child custody arrangement as circumstances change over time. Family law resources are available to help families at any stage and through any changes and challenges they may face, which is why divorcing parents should be familiar with the family law resources available to them.