Child custody can be one of the most difficult parts of a divorce. We take a look at how child custody lawyers can help structure healthy solutions.

Custody can cut deep. Roughly 22 million children have a parent who lives outside their household. Many of these parents were not present because they lost legal custody of their children. 

If you are approaching a divorce, you should hire child custody lawyers. But they can only help you if you know what is going on. 

What is legal custody, and how does it compare to physical custody? What are the different kinds of custody arrangements you can make? When is the right time to contact an attorney? 

Answer these questions and you can find a custody solution that is right for everyone. Here is your quick guide.

Legal and Physical Custody

There are two main kinds of custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make plans and decisions for their child’s life. It includes decisions for their education, medical care, and discipline. 

Physical custody refers to a parent’s right to live and spend time with their child. A parent may make decisions about a child’s daily needs, including their dietary habits. 

When you are considering child custody, you need to consider both types of custody. A judge will use their discretion to divide them as they see fit. They will consider a child’s best interests and find a custody solution that works for them. 

One parent may receive visitation rights, but they may not have legal custody of the child. The opposite is also true, though such an arrangement rarely happens. 

Custody concepts can be hard to understand. You should contact Maryland custody attorneys to get a complete sense of your legal rights. 

Joint Custody

Joint custody occurs when both parents have similar or identical legal rights. Joint legal custody means that the parents share control of their child. Co-parenting is easy as both parents remain in contact with each other. 

Shared physical custody occurs when a child lives with both parents. They switch back and forth between the two residences. 

Many judges create a plan for joint legal and shared physical custody. It is up to the parents to determine how exactly they will split custody of their child. One parent may have the last word if both parents disagree.

Each parent may have an area where they can make decisions for their child with maximum discretion. This is a good option if one parent is an expert in an area like finance.

Birdnesting keeps a child in their residence while their parents cycle out. This minimizes disruptions for the child, though it can be expensive to keep residences for the co-parents.

Sole Custody

Sole custody occurs when a parent receives full legal and/or physical custody. Judges grant sole custody under limited circumstances. A judge may grant it if one parent has been abusive or has had trouble with the law. 

Infidelity and financial troubles do not lead to sole custody decisions. If a co-parent needs help paying for their child, the other co-parent may pay them child support. 

A judge does not favor a mother over a father. The law presumes that both parents are custodians of a child. If the parents are unmarried, a father may need to prove their custody in order to receive legal rights.

Sole custody arrangements can change through time. A parent may become able to take charge of their child. They do need to apply for a custody review for this to occur.

Lacking custody does not mean that a parent is uninvolved in their child’s life. They can pay child or spousal support. They may be able to make supervised visits. 

As a child becomes an adult, they may reach out to their non-custodial parent. They can have whatever interactions they want with them, regardless of what their custodial parent says.

Split Custody

Split custody occurs in homes where there are multiple children. One parent has sole custody of one child, while the other parent has sole custody of the other child. 

Courts do not prefer split custody arrangements. Splitting siblings from each other can cause extreme distress and depression. 

Most cases of split custody occur in households where children are old. One child may ask the court to let them stay with one parent and the other asks to stay with the second parent. A judge may take the testimonies of the children into consideration. 

Even if split custody occurs, the children should remain in contact with each other. A custody arrangement should never impede a child’s ability to interact with their siblings. 

Temporary Custody

Temporary custody is a time-limited custody arrangement. A judge grants temporary custody during the period that the parents are waiting for court hearings. 

One parent must file a request for a hearing and then ask for an order for temporary custody. A judge will otherwise allow both parents to figure out their own short-term conditions for custody.

Temporary custody is not a final award for custody. It does not impact a judge’s final decision.

Emergency Custody

Emergency custody is a special form of temporary custody. It occurs when one parent and/or the child is at imminent risk of harm from the other parent. 

As with temporary custody, one parent must file for it. Maryland courts have an expedited process so this can occur. An emergency custody decision does not impact final decisions, though many parents who get emergency custody receive sole custody.

Find the Right Child Custody Lawyers

Child custody is complicated. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make plans for their child. Physical custody lets a parent live with their child. 

A judge thinks about a child’s best interests before making custody decisions. Many judges prefer joint custody, with parents sharing responsibilities. Yet they can opt for sole custody.

Temporary and emergency custody are short-term arrangements. They are options during difficult and abusive situations. 

Before you go in front of a judge, you need to talk to child custody lawyers. Blattner Family Law Group serves Maryland residents. Contact us today.