Various factors have been developed through Maryland case law concerning physical and legal custody. Generally speaking, the Court will consider almost anything that pertains to the child’s well-being and assists the Court in determining what custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. The Court wants to be informed of everything that could possibly affect the child’s well-being because the court has a difficult decision in deciding custody, which the Courts take very seriously.
One of the most significant factors considered is the “fitness” of each parent, which includes each parent’s’ past behavior and conduct, particularly with respect to the child and the other parent. The court also factors in the wishes of the parents. To use an extreme example, if one parent wants the children 90% of the time and the other parent also wants the children 90% of the time, then the court will consider the difference in the parties’ wishes. Conversely, if the parties agree or have some overlap in their agreement about what the custody schedule should be, the court will also take that into account. Therefore, the desires of the parents are a factor, as well as the child’s preference at times. Depending on the child’s age, the court may or may not consider a child’s input.
The child’s age, health, and sex are other factors. For example, if the child has particular medical needs that perhaps one parent is more suited to attend to or care for, that could be a significant factor. Or, if the child has medical conditions requiring intensive home care and one parent has a work schedule that allows them to be home more, that’s also something the court will consider. Further, suppose one parent works very often or has an unusual work schedule which prevents them from being home at times when the child would be. In that case, the Court would likely consider that parent’s work schedule when determining physical custody. In addition, the geographic proximity of the parents’ residencies will also be a primary determining factor in the custodial arrangement.
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