In a divorce, determining child custody often becomes one of the most emotionally charged and critical aspects for parents. Maryland courts prioritize the child’s best interests when making custody decisions.
Understanding the process and factors influencing child custody decisions helps parents better navigate the system and advocate for their child’s best interests.
Factors considered by Maryland courts
When determining child custody, Maryland courts consider several factors to ensure they meet the child’s best interests. Some of these factors include:
- The child’s age, health and gender
- Each parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The parents’ employment and financial situations
- The child’s preference, if they are old enough to express a preference
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
They may also consider the child’s relationship with each parent.
Joint custody vs. sole custody
In Maryland, courts can award joint or sole custody. Joint custody allows both parents to share in the decision-making process regarding the child’s upbringing and welfare. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody; it refers to legal custody, which is the right to make decisions for the child. Physical custody refers to where the child primarily resides. Parents can share joint legal custody, joint physical custody or both.
Sole custody means that one parent has the primary responsibility for the child’s upbringing and welfare, both legally and physically. Courts typically award sole custody when they believe it is in the child’s best interests, such as when there is a history of abuse or one parent is unable to care for the child.
By considering various factors and prioritizing the child’s well-being, Maryland courts aim to create custody arrangements that benefit the child and maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.