What do Maryland Courts Consider in Determining Child Custody?

Custody of a minor child may be awarded to either parent so long as such an arrangement is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. The Maryland court may also elect to order a joint custody arrangement. Either type of arrangement must ensure that the safety and development of the child will not be compromised by the residence arrangement. Neither parent will be presumed to have superior rights to custody.

When deciding a custody order, what kinds of factors are consider?

Some factors used in determining custody include:
• The child’s age, physical and mental health, and emotional attachment to parents
• The child’s relationship with the parents and other persons such as siblings or grandparents
• The parent’s willingness to encourage continued contact between child and the other parent
• Prior instances of abuse or neglect- these may result in a denial of custody or visitation rights to the offending party. Supervised visits may be arranged in some cases however
• Any other relevant factors that the court deems necessary to approve a custody order

Are there any special considerations under Maryland custody laws?

Maryland law allows a child who is 16 years of age or older to file a petition to change custody. If such a child files a petition, the court will honor their request and modify the custody order to reflect the child’s preference.

Do I need a Maryland lawyer to help me with my child custody claims?

The body of laws which covers child custody in Maryland can often be complex, and so hiring a lawyer is often necessary to secure the best arrangement for your child. You may wish to contact an Maryland child custody lawyer early on in proceedings and retain them in the event that the custody order needs to be modified. Custody orders are binding on all parties once they are issued, and careful drafting can avoid costly errors.