The central concern of any family law case with minor children is doing what is best for a child. While divorce is once scenario where child custody may arise, it is by far not the only one. The laws regarding child custody in Maryland are complicated as they involve statutory law and case law, as well local court rules and procedures. While the law presumes that the best interest of the minor children are to be in the care and custody of both fit parents, this situation may change in case of a divorce or any other legal separation of the child’s parents. The Courts look at each case differently and each set of facts may have a different outcome. Courts have the power to make decisions concerning the care and custody of minor children; including where the children live and which parent(s) gets to make major decisions about the children’s welfare and future.
A Montgomery County child custody lawyer could help to fight for what is best for you and your child or children. They could push for your ability to get access to your children and to structure an equitable time-sharing schedule in the best interest of the child(ren), or push for any needed modifications of existing orders.
Child Custody and the Law
The law in Montgomery County and throughout the state gives neither parent preference in determining child custody. While people may have assumed that a child would remain with a mother, Md. Code, Family Law §5-203(d)(2) states that neither parent has a presumed right to custody in a child custody matter. In addition, Md. Code, Family Law §5-203(d)(1) gives the court the ability to award custody to either parent or to form a joint or shared custody arrangement.
To determine the final custody arrangement, the court will consider the totality of the circumstances to come to a decision that is in the best interests of the child(ren). Common factors in awarding custody to a parent include, but are not limited to:
- The ability of a parent to provide a stable home life
- The character of the parents
- The fitness of each parent
- The age, health and sex of the minor child(ren)
- Any history of violence or other abuse
- The residences of the parties
- Proximity to school or other extracurricular activities
- Whether one parent abandoned or was separated from the child
- Any special healthcare needs
- The wishes of the child if the child is of a certain age and sound judgment and only under certain circumstances
A MoCo attorney could help parents to understand the legal factors that could play into a court’s decision concerning child custody. And more importantly help guide your case to advocate for you and your child(ren)’s best interest.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Most parents focus on the concept of physical custody when dealing with the issue of child custody. Physical custody determines where and with whom the child lives. Shared custody arrangements encompass anywhere from a few nights per week for the non-custodial parent to equal time-sharing schedules.
If the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, the child lives with that parent most of the time, but the other parent will have access and visitation rights. Although there is no presumption for joint custody in Maryland, the courts of the state do favor a shared custody arrangement to allow both parties ample time with their children. If there are reasons you do not support such a schedule, a local attorney can advocate for the custody arrangement that you want.
Physical custody is just one part of child custody. The right to have a say in important decisions concerning the future of the child is just as important. Known as legal custody, this includes the right to choose a school for the child, to make medical decisions, to have a say in the child’s religion, and to choose a child’s afterschool activities.
A MoCo lawyer could help to fight for your right to both legal and physical custody of your children.
Contact a Montgomery County Child Custody Attorney Today
The question of what will happen to the children should be at the front of all peoples’ minds who are going through a divorce or a separation.
A court will look to the standard of the best interests of the minor child(ren), which includes who will be able to make decisions concerning the child’s living arrangements, which parent has the right to determine how the child is raised, and set an appropriate access schedule for the parties. It is important to remember that child custody is very subjective, which is why you should seek out a MoCo child custody attorney for all questions regarding the care and custody of your children.
A member of our team could fight by your side to convince a court of your ability to provide a proper home for your children. This could result in a fair custody arrangement that meets your goals and provide a stable life for your children. Nothing is more important than your kids; let a Montgomery County child custody lawyer fight for you both.