Child custody is one of the biggest concerns most parents going through a divorce have, which is why it can help to be familiar with the child custody laws in Maryland. Parents should ensure they have all their child custody questions answered so they can develop a child custody arrangement that is in their child’s best interests.
There are different types of child custody under the family law system. Child custody can be joint custody, when the parents share custody, or sole custody, when one parent has primary custody of the child and the other parent has visitation. In addition, there is physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to who the child primarily lives with. Legal custody refers to which parent has the primary responsibility for making important decisions for the child such as those related to health, education and religion. Physical and legal custody can be joint or sole.
Child custody decisions are made based on what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s own wishes are not considered in Maryland. The family law court can reach a child custody arrangement for the couple, or parents can reach one that is approved by the court. Parents are encouraged to reach a child custody arrangement together based on the best interests of the child. When determining custody, the family law court can consider any factor that is relevant to the child’s best interests and usually considers factors that relate to the child’s overall safety and well-being.
The best interests of the child may be determined by considering the child’s relationship with siblings and family members; the need for consistency and continuity in the child’s family life, community and education; and the child’s parents and which parent is in the best position to care for the child’s daily needs and maintain a loving relationship with the child. Understanding how child custody is determined in Maryland can help parents reach a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child and is something they can agree to.