Custody is often the most difficult aspect of divorce for Maryland parents. These decisions aren’t as simple as splitting time between both parents. In some custody cases, sole custody might be warranted. However, even if it is in the child’s best interest or your family’s situation, it may not come without a legal battle. If you seek the sole custody of your child, you should understand Maryland’s custody laws and how family courts operate. It’s also best to have an experienced Maryland custody attorney on your side
Types of Custody
There are two types of child custody recognized in this state:
- Legal custody includes long-term decisions about a child’s education, religious upbringing, medical care, and their overall welfare. Decisions about where the child goes to school or which doctor they go to are at the parent’s discretion with legal custody.
- Physical custody refers to the day-to-day decisions about a child’s life and where they will physically reside most of the time.
Family courts can award legal and physical custody in one of several ways:
- Sole custody— awarded to one parent
- Joint custody— both parents share the custodial responsibilities
- Split custody— each parent gets custody of a child when they have multiple children
How the Court Determines Custody Arrangements
Gone are the days when mothers automatically had custody of their children. Today, Maryland family courts see each parent as equals, and gender won’t play a role in a custody order. The court must look out for what is in “the best interest of the child.” This rather broad standard includes several different factors, such as:
- Each parent’s character and overall parental fitness
- Financial resources
- Primary residence location
- Disability or other medical conditions
Sometimes, the child’s preference is considered, but it’s usually not given much weight, especially if it involves younger children. The court’s bottom line is that they want to ensure that the child ends up living as normal and fulfilling of a life as they would have had before the divorce.
Sometimes the court will find that it’s in the child’s best interest to give sole custody to one parent. This is common in cases involving a history:
- Child or spousal abuse
- Child neglect
- Substance abuse
- Mental illness with irrational or unpredictable behavior
- Abandonment by one parent
- Incarceration of one parent
- Relocation of one parent out of state or out of the country
These factors all have negative implications for children, which the court wants to avoid. If you can prove that one or more of these aspects is involved with your divorce, the court will be more likely to grant sole custody. However, it’s essential to note that they may still order visitation for the child’s other parent.
Get Help from a Qualified Custody Attorney in Maryland
If you are seeking sole custody of your child, the process can become quite stressful. Even if you have a valid reason for wanting sole custody, such as those mentioned above, you still must go through the legal process. The good news is that when you hire a qualified custody attorney, they will represent your interests and help you attain the best outcome possible.