CUSTODY & VISITATION
In all Maryland child custody cases, the standard is what is in the “best interests of the child.” When determining what child custody schedule is in the "best interests" of your child, considerations include but are not limited to, the fitness of each parent, the capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions, and the relationship between each child and parent. Every case, and every family, is unique and each custody case must be viewed through that lens. As a child custody lawyer in Towson and Baltimore, Maryland, we assist clients in all types of custody matters including initial determinations of custody and modifications of existing custody arrangements.
TYPES OF CUSTODY
There are two types of custody in Maryland—physical and legal custody.
Physical custody is the parenting time each parent spends with their child. In Maryland, the terms “physical custody,” “access,” “visitation,” and “parenting time” are often used interchangeably. Physical custody can be jointly shared or awarded primarily to one parent.
Legal custody is the long-range decision-making for a child. These long-range decisions relate to a child’s education, religious training, discipline, medical care, and other matters of major significance impacting the child’s welfare and well-being. Legal custody and can be shared by parents or awarded solely to one parent. There is also a possibility that parents can share legal custody and if they cannot reach a shared decision, one parent can be designated to make the final decision.
If parents cannot agree, the Court will make a determination as to what is in the best interests of a child based on reviewing 20 plus factors established by Maryland case law. It is important to know these factors in order to make sure you present evidence addressing them.
Cases involving custody to someone other than a parent (third-party custody) can be very difficult. There is a presumption that a child’s welfare is best served in the custody of a parent rather than the custody of a third party. If someone other than a biological or legally adoptive parent is seeking custody, that party must prove to the court that both parents are unfit, or that extraordinary circumstances exist which would render parental custody detrimental to a child. The Court may recognize a parent who has developed a psychological dependence or bond with a child without a biological relationship. This is referred to as a de facto parent. De facto parents are treated differently by the Court than third parties seeking custody.
As experienced child custody attorneys in Towson, Baltimore, and Maryland, Wasserman Family Law helps clients understand their options and work diligently to obtain the most favorable outcome, whether through negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, or litigation. We zealously advocate for our clients and advise them as to how to present their position in the best light.