If you are in the middle of a custody battle, you already know that a knowledge of Maryland custody law is important. Understanding the different types of custody and how judges come to custody decisions can ensure that you have appropriate access to your children and influence in their lives. We know that divorce law in Maryland can be confusing, so we have put together this guide to the basics.
Overview Of Maryland Custody Law
Maryland custody law separates parental custody into two categories: Physical Custody and Legal Custody. Physical custody determines basic, day-to-day concerns. It decides how the child splits time between parents, which parent provides child support, and which parent guides the child’s everyday life. Physical custody, or access, determines where a child sleeps at night and which parent will spend holidays with the child.
Legal custody gives a parent the right to make short and long-term decisions about their child’s care. Which school will the child attend? Which doctors will they visit for checkups? What religion will they practice? According to Maryland custody law, these decisions fall to the parent who is entrusted with the child’s legal custody or to both parents under a court-ordered system.
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Joint and Sole Custody in Maryland
Parents frequently share physical and legal custody. In other situations, one parent might assume sole custody in one or both categories. A parent with sole legal custody has the right to make all of their child’s major life choices. Parents who share legal custody also split decisions about school and medical care and all other decisions. When the court believes that parents can work together in the child’s best interest, it often grants joint legal custody even if one parent receives primary physical custody. Joint legal custody arrangements often establish a process, such as mediation or arbitration, to make decisions when parents disagree.
Under Maryland custody law, primary physical custody requires that the child spend a majority of their time with one parent. This does not mean that one parent loses their right to see their child, as many non-custodial parents still receive substantial visitation rights. If the court grants an equally shared, “50/50” joint physical custody arrangement, then the child splits time evenly between both parents.
How The Decision Is Made
When resolving a case, the court’s aim is to provide the best guidance and living situation for the child. In order to reach this goal, the court decides each individual dispute based on Maryland custody law and the best interests of the child. Courts examine a wide variety of factors, including the child’s age and health, each parent’s ability to provide for the child, living conditions, and family religious concerns. All of these factors help determine the court’s legal and physical custody decisions.
If you are considering divorce or have already started the separation process, you want what is best for your children during this difficult time. But you may have questions about Maryland custody law that you can’t answer on your own. Getting trustworthy legal advice at this stage is the best way to strengthen your case. The experienced and caring attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling law can help you make the best decision for your family. Contact us at 410-753-4611 to speak with one of our divorce and custody attorneys today.