The family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier explain the differences between the varying types of child custody in Maryland.
For couples going through a divorce, determining the future for any children under the age of 18 can oftentimes cause confusion and distress. Answering the question, “Who will get custody of the children?” is typically easier said than done in legal, emotional and personal terms.
According to Maryland law, both biological parents are recognized as guardians of their children, meaning that the law does not give preference to the mother or the father. The law considers the best interest of the child when determining custody and/or visitation arrangements. In order to determine what exactly is in the best interest of the child, the court will consider several factors, including, but not limited to, the current primary caregiver, character/reputation of each parent, existing agreements and financial opportunities.
In an effort to alleviate some confusion between the possible outcomes and make the process less confusing, brief descriptions of the different types of child custody utilized in Maryland are outlined below.
Legal Custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make long-term plans about the child’s upbringing, which includes making decisions about education, religion, discipline, medical care and other momentous aspects pertaining to the child’s welfare.
Physical Custody. This type of custody gives a parent the right to have the child live with him or her and make decisions regarding the child’s everyday care. Typically, the parent with whom the child primarily lives will have primary physical custody, and the other parent may or may not have visitation rights.
Both legal custody and physical custody can be administered in multiple ways.
Sole Custody. As implied by its name, sole custody gives full custody to one parent. He or she can have either sole legal custody or sole physical custody if the other parent is deemed unfit or a court determines that this arrangement is in the best interest of the child. In addition, a parent can be granted sole custody, yet still share joint legal custody with the other parent depending on the agreement.
Joint Custody. Joint custody involves both parents sharing physical time and/or responsibilities for the upbringing of the child even if the child has a primary residence. If both parents have agreed to shared physical custody, the child will spend at least 35 percent of the time with each parent.
An important factor to consider is that each custody arrangement can have variances based on individual cases. Either of the parents involved in the court ruling can petition a circuit court for a different custody arrangement if they feel the current arrangement is not satisfactory. For anyone who is eager to take this route, it’s imperative that he or she consults with or invests in appropriate legal representation. If the wellbeing of your child is at stake, you’ll want to present your argument as effectively and as early in the process as possible.
For more information on child custody or how it pertains to your individual circumstances, please contact the family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.