Custody In Maryland
There are two types of custody in Maryland – physical custody and legal custody. When deciding physical and legal custody of a child, Maryland Courts are guided by what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. This article will explain the differences between physical and legal custody and how this may impact your custody arrangement.
What Is Legal Custody?
Legal custody, sometimes referred to as decision-making authority, refers to the authority of one or both parents to make important decisions about a child’s education, health, religion, care, welfare and other important aspects of the child’s life.
There are several different types of legal custody arrangements. Oftentimes, parties will have joint legal custody. If both parties have joint legal custody, then they both share the decision making right for the child. This requires both parents to work together to make decisions guided by what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. Joint legal custody is often granted when both parties are willing and able to communicate with each other about decisions regarding their child.
In other cases, the parties may have joint legal custody but one parent will be granted “tie-breaking authority.” In this situation, the parties must still work together in good faith to attempt to reach decisions about the child’s well-being. However, if the parties – after having good faith discussions about the issue – cannot reach an agreement, the party with tie-breaking authority is vested with the authority to make the final decision. Tie-breaking authority may be granted to one parent on one particular issue, such as education, or may be granted generally as to all issues of major significance (i.e. medical, religion, etc.)
In some cases, one party may be awarded sole legal custody of the child. If one parent is granted sole legal custody, then that parent is the sole decision-maker for the child. While sole legal custody is not awarded in the majority of cases, it may be appropriate where only one parent has been involved in raising the child or a parent has demonstrated a complete unwillingness or inability to communicate regarding the child’s well-being.
What Is Physical Custody?
Physical custody, sometimes referred to as “parenting time,” refers to the amount of time that each parent spends with the child. Common types of physical custody arrangements include shared or joint physical custody to both parents, primary physical custody to one parent or sole physical custody to one parent. The physical custody arrangement that parents have is determined by each parent’s “access schedule” – the schedule that provides when and how often each parent sees the child.
In determining physical custody, the Court will look to a variety of factors which have been set forth under Maryland law. These factors include, but are not limited to, the fitness of each party as a parent, the geographic proximity of each parent’s residence to the other and the ability of the child to maintain natural family relationships while with each parent. In determining physical custody of a child, the Court will analyze the applicable factors and reach a decision guided by what the Court believes to be in the best interests of the child.
Robert Greenberg, Esq. and the law firm of Greenberg Legal Group LLC (https://greenberglegalgroup.com/) have extensive experience representing clients in both contested and uncontested custody matters. We have successfully guided many clients through the process of seeking custody of their children and address each of our client’s needs on an individual basis. Our firm is located in Annapolis, Maryland and practices in Courts throughout the State of Maryland. Please contact our office at (410) 650-4242 for further assistance.