Get a thorough understanding of child custody law in Maryland, and the factors that determine sole custody, here in this guide.
Did you know that between thirty-five and fifty percent of first-time marriages in the United States end in divorce?
Amid the emotional upheaval, complex legal considerations, and financial strain, the most pressing concern for many of these parents is a singular question: Who will gain sole custody of the children?
The answer to this question can significantly impact the parents’ lives. But more importantly, the lives of their children.
Maryland law has a set of nuanced regulations and statutes that guide the determination of sole custody during a divorce. The court’s primary concern is to protect the child’s best interests.
But what factors does a Maryland judge consider when deciding which parent should be granted sole custody? To clear up confusion, we have written a guide. Keep reading to find out more.
Historical Primary Caregiver
The court typically leans towards the parent who has been the historical primary caregiver.
If one parent has been more involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of raising the children, they are likely to be favoured in the custody decision. This is where a divorce lawyer can be beneficial.
They can present evidence to demonstrate the level of involvement each parent had in the children’s lives before the divorce.
Mental and Physical Health of Each Parent
The court also considers the physical and psychological fitness of each parent. If a parent has a disability, the court considers whether suitable accommodations can be made to parent effectively.
A good child custody lawyer can help demonstrate a parent’s fitness and how they can adequately care for their children despite disabilities.
The Character of Each Parent
Parental character and reputation play a significant role in custody decisions. This means that criminal records or a history of violence could negatively impact a parent’s chances of gaining sole custody.
A divorce lawyer can help present a parent’s character in the best light. They will highlight a parent’s dedication and commitment to their children.
The court will consider each parent’s desires and any existing custody agreements. This is even the case if these arrangements are partial or temporary.
If both parents seek sole custody, the court will examine the reasons behind their requests. If there’s a temporary agreement in place, the court may consider how well it’s working for the children.
Ability to Maintain Family Relationships
Maryland courts consider each parent’s ability to maintain family relationships. This includes the child’s relationships with siblings and extended family. It also has connections with the other parent.
Sole legal custody implies that one parent will make all significant decisions about the child’s life.
The courts aim to minimize disruption in the child’s life. This is why they will favour a parent who promotes healthy relationships between the child and other family members.
Preference of the Child
In Maryland, the court may consider the preference of the child. They often do this through an interview with the judge. The child’s age will also determine how much weight the court gives to their opinion.
A child custody lawyer can help guide parents through this potentially emotional process. A lawyer will make sure that the child’s voice is heard. They will do this without putting undue pressure on the child.
In determining custody, Maryland courts consider the geographic location of the parents’ residences.
If one parent lives far away, the court may see this disrupting the child’s routine. This includes school and extracurricular activities.
Choosing child custody lawyers who understand local child custody law can help present a case for how distance can be managed without disrupting the child’s life.
Length of Separation Between Parent and Child
If a parent has been absent for a significant period, the court may consider it in the child’s best interest to grant custody to the more present parent.
Child custody lawyers can advise on addressing separation issues in court proceedings.
Prior History of Abandonment of the Child
If a parent has previously shown neglect or irresponsibility towards the child, the court may rule in favour of the other parent regarding sole custody.
Understanding child custody law is crucial for building a solid case.
Physical Closeness of Parents’ Homes
Courts favour situations where the child can maintain a stable routine. Therefore, having parents who live close to each other could increase the chances of shared custody.
Benefit to Parents
The child’s best interests are paramount. But the court also considers the benefits to parents.
This may include their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This ultimately contributes to a more stable and nurturing environment for the child.
The sincerity of the Parents
The court examines the sincerity of each parent’s request for custody—a genuine concern for the child’s welfare.
This can be demonstrated through actions, and it can be a deciding factor. This sincerity can be showcased effectively through a well-prepared presentation during court proceedings.
What Determines Sole Custody?
If you live in Maryland and have been wondering what determines sole custody during a divorce, there are several things that you should be aware of.
Some of the most critical factors determining sole custody include the parents’ desires, preferences of the child, and geographic location.
Hiring a skilled divorce lawyer is essential if you want the court to rule in your favour.
That’s where the Blattner Family Law Group comes in. We are here to help you protect what matters most and to start a new chapter in your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us to get started today!