Experiencing any type of custody or visitation matter can be deeply stressful for parents. Your children deserve a safe, healthy, and happy environment. Your parental rights must be fully protected. An experienced legal professional can help you find the best solution. The Maryland family law attorneys at Frame & Frameare strong advocates for parents. We handle the full range of child custody and child visitation cases, from collaborative negotiations between parents to fierce disputes. To get immediate help from a top-rated Maryland custody & visitation attorney, please contact our legal team.
Understanding the Basics of Child Custody in Maryland
It is important to understand that there are two distinct forms of custody rights: physical custody and legal custody. In simple terms, physical custody refers to where the child spends time. In contrast, legal custody refers to decision-making authority for the child. Custody arrangements can be structured in different ways. For example, one parent may be granted primary physical custody for a child, but both parents may get shared legal custody.
It should be noted that Maryland strongly favors granting some form of shared custody to parents. It is presumed that a child’s parents are their natural custodians. A 50-50 custody will not be granted in every case. There are many circumstances in which one parent having primary custody is best for the child.
A parent who does not have primary physical custody generally has access to the child through visitation rights granted through a legally binding court order. Visitation rights are presumed unless there is good cause to believe that the non-custodial parent is unable to care of the child. Should the circumstances warrant it, supervised visitation may be ordered.
Determining the Best Interests of the Child Standard
In Maryland, child custody and child visitation disputes are handled under the state’s best interests of the child standard. What is best for the child’s physical and psychological needs always comes first; the desires of the parents are always secondary.
To prevail in any type of dispute, parents must be prepared to make the case that they can offer the best environment for the child. In applying the best interest standard, family law judges will consider several different factors. As explained in a document published by the Maryland courts, some of the most important factors in custody and visitations cases include:
- Demonstrated parenting ability;
- Health status of each parent;
- Established relationship with the child;
- Any adverse conduct by either parent;
- Stability of lifestyle; and
- If old enough, the child’s preferences.
Our Maryland family law attorneys know how to protect the parental rights of our clients. Whether you are looking to reach a collaborative agreement with your former partner or you are in a battle to obtain sole custody rights, we are here to help.