Understanding Maryland’s Best Interests Standard for Child Custody Decisions

If you’re a parent going through a divorce or custody battle in Maryland, there’s one phrase to live by: “Best Interests of the Child.” This is a guideline that courts use to make decisions about who takes care of the kids after parents separate and can’t agree on custody. It’s all about what’s good for the kids, first and foremost. 

It’s All About the Kids

When judges decide where a child should live and who makes the big decisions in their life, they look at a list of factors to make sure the child will be happy and well-cared for. Here are some of the factors courts consider:

  • Who’s Been Looking After the Child: Who’s the go-to parent for everyday things? Who helps with homework, gets up in the night when there’s a bad dream, and knows just how the little one likes their sandwich cut? This is all about who’s been there, doing the parenting day in, and day out.
  • Parents Working Together: How well do you work with your ex? It’s not just about getting along; it’s about showing that you both can put your kids first and make shared decisions, even if you’re not together anymore. The Court looks favorably on parents who are able to cooperate when looking after their children. 
  • Fitness of the Parents: Are both parents capable of looking after the child? This isn’t just about physical health; it’s also about mental well-being and whether you’re up to the task of parenting, even on the tough days.
  • What the Child Wants: If your child is old enough, what they want matters too. Judges will listen to which parent your child feels more comfortable living with, but they’ll also want to know that it’s a genuine choice that’s best for them.
  • Finances: Can you provide for your child’s needs? This is about more than just money; it’s about making a stable home where your child can grow up without stress about the basics.
  • Where the Parents Live: How far apart do the parents live from one another and the child’s central activities, and will the child be able to visit both easily?
  • Agreements from the Past: If you’ve made custody agreements before, judges will look at those. They want to know what worked, what didn’t, and why.
  • Keeping Family Close: Will one parent be better at keeping the child in touch with other family members?
  • The Child’s Needs: How old is the child, are they healthy, what parenting style is the best for the child– not just what the child prefers, but what is in the child’s best interests.
  • Past Parenting: Has one parent ever walked away from their responsibilities? This history can influence the judge’s decision.
  • Special Needs: If there’s a disability in the picture, with either the child or a parent, it can change what’s needed in a custody plan.
  • Love and Connection: How close is your child to each of you? The emotional bond is a big deal. It’s about who they turn to when they need comfort, advice, or a laugh. It can also be something the Court considers whether one parent has been coaching the child against the other. 
  • Work Life: Parents need to work, sure, but how does your job fit with being there for your child? If you’re always at the office late, that’s something the court will think about.

The judges don’t just pick one thing from this list; they look at everything to make a decision in the best interests of the child.

Let the Law Offices of Tina Sharma Make Things Simpler

We know that family disputes can be tough. That’s where the child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Tina Sharma come in. We utilize a comprehensive team approach to address both simple and complex litigation regarding child custody. We listen, we understand, and we’re here to guide you and your family through this process.

If you’re dealing with custody questions and looking for a strong yet sympathetic advocate to stand by your side, contact the Law Offices of Tina Sharma today and set up a strategy session to talk about how we can help guide your family on the right path moving forward.

Contact our office today.