It’s never easy for either party in a divorce, especially when children are involved. If you have children, you are going to need to understand custody laws in Maryland if you want to make sense of the process. There are many details to consider if you are going to improve your chances of obtaining a favorable ruling.
Zirkin and Schmerling Law is a full-service law firm that offers family law. Although the custody laws in Maryland are straightforward, we have written this post to help you understand how to prepare for mediation or a court case. After all, being prepared is a valuable asset in any law case.
Understanding the Two Types of Custody in Maryland
Custody laws in Maryland revolve around two distinct types, legal and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to any form of long-term custody where the individual in charge has the right to make decisions regarding a child’s education, non-emergency medical care, religious affiliation, and other matters that are critical to the wellbeing of a child.
Physical custody is a form of custody that relates to the everyday needs of a child. For example, if a parent has weekend custody over a child, that would be physical custody as they would be expected to take care of the child while caring for them.
Other Types of Custody
While legal and physical custody deal with long and short-term decision making, a court still needs to choose how that custody will be handled.
There are several types of custody that a court can choose from. The type that you may receive will depend on the ability of the parents to provide care to the child.
Sole custody typically refers to situations where a single parent has sole legal or physical custody over a child. In this scenario, that parent is responsible for making all major decisions (unless otherwise stated) regarding the wellbeing of the child.
Split custody involves situations with two or more children. This type of custody may result in each parent having legal and physical custody over one of the children. For example, a mother may win custody over their younger son while her teenage daughter elects to live with her father due to having a poor relationship with the mother. Both parents will have the necessary custody over the child that they are caring for.
Joint custody is used in situations where both parents care for the child. It is broken down into three types of custody: joint legal, shared physical, and combination. Your court ruling will determine which of these are used based on the conditions of the separation, your relationship with your spouse, and each parent’s ability to provide care.
Joint legal custody is common in cases where both parents can work together and make sensible decisions for their children, even if the child stays with one of the parents more. Decision making can be amicable, one parent may have more authority to settle tiebreakers, or split up into categories. All of these details are determined during your separation and can only be changed at a later date with approval from the parent with legal custody.
Factors Your Judge Will Consider for Care
Every case is different, and your judge will consider several factors. Here is a list of the primary factors that influence custody laws in Maryland:
- Who is the primary caregiver?
- Are they fit for that role?
- What kind of character and reputation do they have?
- Does a custody agreement already exist?
- Can they maintain a reasonable family relationship?
- What does the child prefer?
- Are they materially fit?
- What’s the age, health, and gender of the child?
- Is the primary residence located near the other parent and family members?
- What is the length of the separation?
- Has the parent abandoned or surrendered custody in the past?
Parents can always agree to these terms outside of a court setting. These factors are only considered if both parents cannot agree on custody through the mediation process.
Need Help with Custody Laws in Maryland? Call Zirkin and Schmerling Law
Child custody is a significant decision that requires a lot of planning. A custody court case will decide the future of your child and who cares for them. That’s why you need the right legal representation.
The wellbeing of your child is important, and Zirkin and Schmerling Law can help you navigate the tricky legal process. We are here to help you get the ruling you deserve. Your case is important to us, and we take the time to walk you through your options, how we will approach your case, and we put our expertise to use to help you achieve the results you want. Contact us today to schedule your free, no obligation consultation by calling 410-753-4611.
Hi, I’m Jana Ponzak and I head up the family law division here at Zirkin and Schmerling Law. Today, we’re going to talk about custody. There’s two different types of custody in Maryland. There’s physical custody, which is where a child resides every day. And there’s legal custody, which is the decision making that a parent has regarding health, education, and religion.
There are many, many different ways that custody can be divided. There’s primary physical custody to one parent, where that parent has the majority of the time with the child and visitation is awarded to the other parent. There’s shared physical custody, where the child splits has his or her time between the households. There’s also sole legal custody, where one parent has all of the decision making power and there’s shared legal custody where the parents divide the decision making. In Maryland the way that custody is determined is through a best interest standard. Factors, such as the fitness of the parents, their ability to communicate and their geographic proximity are important things that a judge or a magistrate determines in terms of custody. If you would like to know more, please call our office at 410 356-4455. We would be happy to discuss it with you.