Custody and Visitation

Anytime children are involved in the dissolution of any relationship, custody and visitation rights need to be established. For many, this is the most difficult part of a relationship ending.

Two Types Of Custody In Maryland — Legal Custody And Physical Custody

Legal custody: Legal custody involves the right to make long-range decisions for the child, such as education, religion, discipline, medical care and other significant decisions regarding the life path and welfare of the child.

A parent can have sole legal custody, meaning that one parent has the right to make all legal and long-term decisions that affect the child without consulting the other parent, or both parents can share joint legal custody, meaning that all legal and long-term decisions will be made collectively by the parents, and that neither parent has rights superior than the other parent's rights. Joint legal custody is generally appropriate when the parties are able to effectively communicate for the benefit of the child.

Physical custody: Physical custody involves the obligation to provide a home for the child, as well as making the day-to-day decisions affecting the child during the time that the child is with that parent.

A parent can have sole physical custody, meaning that the child lives with one parent all of the time with specific visitation rights reserved for the other parent, or joint physical custody, meaning that both parents have the child for a significant period of time throughout the year, although each parent may not have the child for exactly 50 percent of the time.

Determining Custody

In custody determinations, the courts are focused on what is best for the child. Keeping the child's environment as stable as possible while the parties work through their difficulties and decide how and where their lives will operate through the divorce process is of utmost importance. To that extent, whenever possible, the judges like to keep children in their current home and in their current surroundings, such as day care and school. The idea is to create as little disruption to the child's life as possible.

After an initial custody determination is made, there are times when a modification of the custody arrangement is warranted. When this occurs, the courts go through a two-step process. First, the courts determine whether there has been a material change in circumstances that warrants a modification, such as one parent moving out of the area. If the courts determine that there has been a material change, the court then looks at what is in the best interest of the child. Again, the courts will attempt to cause as little disruption as possible in the life of the child.

Call Us For A Consultation

Custody can be an emotionally charged issue. It is important that you have an attorney who understands what you want, and can explain any challenges that you may face when pursuing your case. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at 301-220-2288.