Child Custody in Maryland: A Primer

Child Custody in Maryland: A Primer

Child custody in Maryland, which falls under family law, is the legal process of determining who may care for a child or children and to what extent. In the subsequent article, we will provide a summary of common custody arrangements, who is eligible for being a custodian, and the factors Maryland courts consider when determining custody. We hope that this post will empower readers with knowledge so they can seek the right kind of legal service in the future.



Types of Custody Arrangements

 Custody Type Definition
 De Facto Custody Who has custody of a child before a court becomes involved
 Emergency Custody Temporary custody granted if there’s an imminent risk to you and/or a child
 Joint Legal Custody Both parents work together and share the care and control of the upbringing of a child
 Shared Physical Custody A child splits time between each parents’ homes, spending at least 35% of the time with each parent.
 Legal Custody A parent has the right to make long-term plans and decisions about matters of major significance concerning the child’s welfare. Examples: education, religious upbringing.
 Sole Custody A parent is granted sole power when it comes to legal, physical, or combination of issues.
 Split Custody When multiple children are involved, one parent has sole custody of some of the children, and the other parent has sole custody of the remaining children.
 Temporary Custody A form of custody granted by a court ahead of litigation.

Who Can Obtain Custody of a Child?

In Maryland, a child’s natural parents are the primary people considered for any custody arrangement. Courts also look at the “best interests” of the child when deciding on child custody and visitation. That said, custody arrangements are not permanent and can be augmented if a parent petitions the court.

Factors That Maryland Courts Consider When Determining Custody

Numerous elements go into a court’s consideration of who gets custody of a child and in what way. They include:

  • Existing primary caregiver status
  • Fitness (mental and physical)
  • Character and reputation
  • Prior arrangements in place
  • Ability to maintain family relationships
  • Child preference
  • Financial status
  • Age, health, and the gender of the child
  • Parents’ homes
  • Length of separation
  • Previous history of abandonment or being absent
  • Religious views

How a Family Lawyer Can Help

If you are considering filing for child custody or revisiting an existing arrangement, it may be worth working with a family lawyer. Doing so provides a tailored approach that matches your particular situation. Additionally, your attorney can help you navigate the ins and outs of Maryland child custody laws.

If you are seeking an experienced Baltimore area family law firm, feel free to contact one of our offices. Call (410) 870-9090 for our Downtown Baltimore location or (410) 284-6060 for our Dundalk location. Alternatively, you can submit a written request for consultation using our contact form.