For many married couples, starting a family is a very important life event. Much like couples do not anticipate divorce when they get married, parents do not foresee their family being split up due to divorce. Unfortunately, this is a reality faced by many families in Maryland and elsewhere. While this means addressing a wide range of divorce issues, it also means navigating child custody. For some, this is a fairly easy and straightforward arrangement to establish; however, this can also be a contentious and high conflict issue for others.
What are the child custody laws in Maryland? Much like other states, separating parents in Maryland could seek joint custody. This allows each parent legal rights to make important decisions regarding the child’s life. Additionally, parents could seek joint physical custody, which means that the child lives equally with both parents. It is also possible to see other arrangements, such as one parent having legal custody and physical custody, which is often referred to as sole custody.
When parents cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, this is when the court can step in. When a judge makes a decision in these matters, the best interests of the child are considered. This can include the need for consistency, continuity in his or her education, community and family life, emotional development, physical needs and which parent is likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child.
The state also recognizes that the child or children involved have the right to have their wishes be known and considered by the court. At the age of 16, a child may petition for a change in custody if he or she seeks to have the current order altered to align with his or her wishes.
Child custody matters are considered major decisions in the divorce process because they can impact both the parents and the children involved. Thus, it is imperative to understand how to best navigate these matters and how best to secure a favorable result that protects the best interests of the children.