How Does Maryland Determine Child Custody in a Divorce?

When there are children involved in a divorce, the issue of where the children will live is frequently a source of contention and great emotion. No parent wishes to lose contact with their children, and no responsible parent should be forced to do so. After all, research indicates that it is generally in the children’s best interests to maintain close contact with both parents following a divorce, regardless of the custody arrangement.

If you find yourself facing divorce and are scrambling to figure out how you can secure custody by searching the internet for “family lawyers near me,” reach out to Fait & DiLima, LLP instead. Our Montgomery and Frederick County child custody attorneys are here to help you take the first step toward making the best of a tough situation.

Our legal team at Fait & DiLima is committed to ensuring that you understand your rights and what to expect during the child custody process. We understand that divorces can be complicated especially when there are children involved. Our Montgomery and Frederick County child custody attorneys have a combined experience of more than 50 years in family law and a strong track record of assisting families in resolving complex issues in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Read on as we discuss the different types of child custody and how Maryland courts make their determination.

Types of Child Custody in a Divorce

To understand how Maryland courts determine child custody, clients should know about the various types of custody parents might receive in a contested or uncontested divorce. Explore the most common types of child custody arrangements below.

Temporary Custody

Courts will consider the best interest of the child before awarding temporary custody. An award of temporary custody remains a practical matter and does not impact the court’s ultimate decision regarding the custody of the child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody focuses on the child’s daily needs and determines how much time parents get to spend with their child. Children who attend school will often stay with one parent for five days a week or more. In such cases, the parents often split the weekends.

Legal Custody

Legal custody reaffirms the parents’ right to make crucial decisions for their child. Such decisions may involve the child’s:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Upbringing

Parents with legal custody can decide other matters for their children as well. If you find yourself searching for “family lawyers near me” because you have concerns about legal custody of your child, call Fait & DiLima today to schedule your consultation.

Joint Custody

Almost all divorce case clients understand the difference between joint and sole custody. However, few people know that the court can award joint legal custody and sole physical custody, or vice versa.

Sole Custody

Sole legal custody means one parent wields decision-making power over the child’s future. Sole physical custody means that only one parent enjoys the right to spend time with the child.

Split Custody

Split custody refers to the rare situation in which the court awards sole custody of one child to a parent and sole custody of a second child to the other parent. However, courts prefer to keep siblings together in most cases.

How Maryland Courts Determine Custody: Best Interest of the Child

In Maryland, the courts utilize the “best interest of the child” standard when determining custody. This standard includes various statutory factors interpreted by judges. The most crucial child custody factors are discussed below.

Child’s Stability, Health, and Welfare

When approving a parenting plan, courts will focus on the child’s overall stability, health, and welfare. Too much disruption to the child’s daily routine may result in the rejection of a parenting plan.

Child’s Relationship with Each Party

Courts will look to maintain all familial relationships as long as they remain in the child’s best interests. That aim extends to the parties and relatives who have established a bond with the child.

Child’s Physical and Emotional Security

When determining custody, courts will consider the child’s overall security under the terms of the proposed parenting plan. The analysis includes the assessment of physical and emotional hazards of poor living conditions and strained relationships.

Child’s Development

Maryland courts will always promote the healthy development of the child. The goal is to craft a parenting plan that fosters the child’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and intellectual development.

Parties’ Ability to Place the Child’s Needs Above Their Own

A judge may examine the parents’ willingness to put their child before themselves. Parents who demonstrate selflessness when dealing with their child may receive more physical custody of the child than a parent who exhibits self-centeredness.

Parties’ Current Roles in the Life of the Child

When working together to create a parenting plan, parents should set realistic expectations regarding their future roles in their child’s life. They should consider their current roles as the starting points and not deviate from them too much.

Parties’ Relationship with Each Other

How the parties interact may impact the court’s custody order. For example, if one party abuses the other, the judge may seek to minimize the amount of time the child spends with the abuser and may even order supervised visitation.

Parties’ Locations

Where the parties live can affect a court’s decision regarding child custody. Parents who live too far away from their children’s schools may not enjoy as much physical custody as they might hope.

Fait & DiLima, LLP | Your Child Custody Lawyers Near Me

Preserve your parent-child relationship by retaining legal representation from Fait & DiLima, LLP. We provide skilled legal counsel and representation to clients in Montgomery and Frederick Counties and the surrounding areas. Contact our Rockville child custody lawyers to discuss your child custody case. Whether you are seeking child support, custody, spousal support, or are going through a high-asset divorce, our team will work hard to ensure you obtain the best outcome possible.

Call us today at (301) 251-0100 to set up a consultation to answer any questions and begin the case evaluation process. You can also use this link to fill out our contact form.

Copyright© 2022. Fait & DiLima, LLP. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Fait & DiLima, LLP
One Church Street, Suite 800
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 251-0100



How Does Maryland Determine Child Custody in a Divorce?
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