When a relationship comes to an end, having to untangle two lives can sometimes be an emotional and difficult process. When there is a child or children who are shared in that relationship the couple will often times have to go to court to have their child custody issues resolved. Having to go through this process can be emotional, frustrating, and very taxing on individuals, so it is important they have a basic understanding of how child custody issues are handled in their state and also enlist the help of a child custody lawyer for those cases that are especially difficult to handle on their own.
Factors that Determine Child Custody in Maryland
When it comes to the issue of child custody in the state of Maryland, the family court system strongly believes the best interests of the child or children involved are the most important thing to consider. Additionally, one parent is not considered to have more rights or more privileges than the other parent when making a decision on child custody. Judges in this state have a great deal of discretion when it comes to making child custody decisions and are allowed to take any factors they choose regarding each parent into consideration as long as they relate to the well-being of the child.
When it comes to the factors that will determine child custody, the judge will consider both of the parent’s preferences as well as any agreement they may have made on their own. Additionally, factors such as each parent’s ability to provide child care, their character, and their reputation will also be considered. Some of the other factors they will look at when making this decision will include:
- Ages of the child or children involved
- Genders of the child or children involved
- Overall mental and physical health of the child or children involved
- The location where each of the parents live
- Present opportunities for visitation for each parent
- Whether either of the parents have voluntarily abandoned the child or children
Custody and Visitation Options in Maryland
Generally, the Maryland family court system favors child custody arrangements where the child or children are provided with continuity and stability in their living situation while also continuing to foster the natural family and social relationships they need or want to have. In some cases, the judge may even allow the child or children to present their preference when it comes to their living situation and which parent they want to primarily reside with – this will be based on their age and the situation overall.
When it comes to the options available for visitation and custody in the state of Maryland, the judge will need to consider two different aspects of a custody arrangement – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child or children will primarily reside with while legal custody is the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the child or children’s upbringing, including educational, medical, and overall well-being decisions.
Being awarded joint legal custody does not mean the parents will also receive joint physical custody. There are a number of different parenting schedules the judge will consider and the right solution for any child custody arrangement will be based on that case’s specific factors and situation, and of course, what is in the best interests of the child or children involved in the case. If visitation is being considered, the judge has the ability to award a number of different visitation arrangements.
Joint Custody Arrangements in Maryland
In some cases, the judge may be strongly considering awarding joint custody to the parent of the child or children involved. When considering this type of arrangement, the judge will need to consider a number of different factors, including the ones that have already been discussed. Additionally, the judge will need to take a hard look at both parents and how they interact with one another, and how their relationship and their communication skills will affect the child or children involved. Some of the things they will look at when making this decision include, but are not limited to:
- The parents relationship with one another
- Each parents ability to communicate with the other party
- Each parents ability to foster a positive and loving relationship between the child or children and the other parent
- Each parents willingness to adhere to and follow the child custody agreement
Child Custody Modification in Maryland
Even though a child custody agreement is legally binding, there may come a point in time when a modification to this agreement is needed in order to best raise and care for the child or children involved. In cases where both parents agree to the modification being proposed, making the change to the child custody arrangement is generally very simple. Issues, however, will arise when one parent wishes to make a modification to the agreement and the other parent does not want to allow it.
When this situation occurs, the parent who wants to make a modification will need to take the issue back to the family court system and have a judge decide whether or not the modification will be allowed. Since having a stable household and continuity within a schedule is important to a child’s upbringing, Maryland family courts will not grant all modifications and it lies with the parent making the request to prove to and convince the judge trying the case that the modification is needed for the child.
In order to have the modification approved by the judge, the parent making the request will need to prove the following among some other factors:
- A significant change in the parent’s or child’s/children’s circumstances has happened to prompt the need for modification
- The child or children involved will see increased benefits from the modification being proposed
Child Custody and Relocation in Maryland
Relocation in many ways is regarded in the same manner as modification – since stability is a key aspect of a child’s well-being in the eyes of the court, they do not like to approve relocation requests without good reason. If both parents agree to the relocation, the process is again easier to work through. But, should one parent not agree to the other parent relocating, which is often the case when one parent has physical custody of the child or children and wants to move, it becomes the family court judge’s duty to make a decision about the relocation that will be in the best interests of the child or children involved.
When considering a relocation request in regards to child custody, the judge will consider a number of different factors including the ones outlined here, but also a number of other factors that will weigh into their overall decision:
- Why the relocation is being requested
- The proposed benefits that the parent and/or child/children will see, such as a better occupation, higher pay, better living conditions, better educational opportunities or a better social atmosphere
- The reasons why the other parent is against the relocation
- The ages and genders of the children who will be effected by the relocation
- The relationships between the child or children and both of the parents
- What alternate communication methods are available for the other parent to stay in contact with the child or children and how much those communication methods cost