Child custody issues can be some of the most heart-wrenching disputes in family law courts in Maryland. Whether the couple is married and going through a divorce, or if they were never married to begin with, sometimes in these types of disputes it can be easy to lose track of the idea that what the parties are really fighting over is what they believe is best for the child at issue. So, how do you know who will get custody of the child in one of these disputes?
Unless there are extreme or unusual circumstances, family law courts typical default to both parents having legal custody of the child, which means they will both have some input into the major decisions that will impact the child's life, such as where the child will attend school or church, or what type of medical care the child will receive. So, oftentimes these disputes are about who will get "physical" custody of the child and who will have visitation rights.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live, primarily. To determine this, family law judges will usually look at a variety of factors. One factor is which parent has traditionally been responsible for taking care of the child's day-to-day needs, such as grooming, bathing, meals, etc. But, there are many other factors that will be considered as well, including: the mental and physical health of the parents; any allegations of drug or alcohol abuse in the family; the child's relationship with siblings, if any; a child's special needs; the child's own wishes, if old enough to express those wishes; and the overall family environment.
Child custody disputes can be difficult. But, with the right approach and information, Maryland residents can work through these issues to attempt to get a good result.