In family law, few things are as important as determining who cares for the children. Your kids deserve to grow in a healthy and supportive environment, regardless of circumstance. 

Parent And Child Holding Hands

At Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC, our team of Maryland child custody lawyers have over 250 years of combined experience in providing strong legal representation and supporting our clients’ positions in custody proceedings. Call us at (410) LAW-YERS or contact us online to request a free consultation.

Maryland Child Custody Laws

There are two types of child custody arrangements in Maryland: physical and legal.

Physical Custody

Physical custody involves which parent the child lives with and who is responsible for their day-to-day care. This custody can be either sole, where one parent has full responsibility, or joint, where both parents share these responsibilities.

One parent is usually designated as the primary residential parent, having the child most of the time, while the other parent might have visitation rights or secondary custody. Shared custody is defined as each parent having the child for at least 35% of the time or at least 128 overnights annually, which plays a key role in calculating child support payments.

Legal Custody

Legal custody, on the other hand, is about who has the authority to make major decisions about the child’s education, health care, religious upbringing, hobbies, and social activities. Like physical custody, legal custody can also be exclusive to one parent or shared.

Parents can have different arrangements for physical and legal custody. For example, they might share physical custody, but only one parent makes certain decisions. Even if one has full physical custody, they may still need to involve the other parent in making decisions about the child’s life.

Child Custody Determinations in Maryland: What Guides the Decision?

Child custody determinations in Maryland involve a thorough evaluation of the following factors:

  • Which parent has been taking care of the children predominantly
  • The economic capabilities of each parent
  • The moral fiber, character, and societal reputation of each parent
  • How close each parent lives to the children’s educational institution, their friends, and other relatives
  • The nature of the children’s relationship with each parent
  • The ability of a parent to foster strong familial ties for the children
  • The impact of the children’s ages and genders on the custody matters
  • The presence of any formal custody arrangements agreed upon by the parents
  • The personal choices of the children regarding custody
  • Reports of abuse towards the child or spouse by either parent

Step-by-Step Guide to Seeking Child Custody in Maryland

Once you have decided what type of custody you want (physical or legal; sole or joint), here are the next steps you can take with the help of Maryland family law attorneys:

  • Try to reach an agreement with the other parent through informal negotiations. If this works, submit the plan to the court for approval.
  • If you cannot agree to the terms, file a petition for custody in the county circuit court.
  • The other parent must be formally notified of the custody case. This is known as “service of process”.
  • Submit your proposed parenting plan, detailing how you intend to care for your child, including living arrangements, education, healthcare, and visitation schedules.
  • A Maryland court may order a custody evaluation to check each parent’s living situation and relationship with the child.
  • A custody hearing will be scheduled where both parents can present their cases.
  • After considering all evidence and testimony, the judge will create a custody and visitation order.
  • You can request a modification of this order in case your circumstances drastically change in the future — for example, if you lose your job or become disabled.

Skilled child custody lawyers in Maryland can guide you through each step so you can successfully demonstrate to the court that your proposed custody arrangement will benefit your child greatly. 

Our Child Custody Lawyers Maryland will Fight to Protect Your Rights and Your Child’s Best Interests

As experienced child custody attorneys in Maryland, we are equipped to handle sensitive custody issues, including complex cases where custody orders are not followed, domestic violence is involved, or a child is wrongfully taken. Let us leverage our decades of legal experience to help create a safe and stable future for your child. Contact our family law office at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC in Maryland at (410) LAW-YERS. You can also schedule a free consultation by sending us a message online.