Determining Child Custody Rights in Maryland
Divorce can be an emotionally difficult experience and there are many issues a divorcing couple must consider when severing their union, including dividing marital assets and property. In addition, if a couple has children from their marriage, both parties need to determine a custody agreement.
Although historically many states deferred to the practice that gave mothers the upper hand in custody battles, Maryland, among other states, has adopted a more progressive view that considers equally the role that each parent plays in the life of their child. No parent has a presumptive right to custody. Known as the “best interest standard,” this policy requires that judges look at the totality of the circumstances and determine what is in a child’s best interest.
Determining what is in the best interest of a child is not an easy endeavor. Courts may examine a myriad of factors that are relevant to parenting, including the home and environment each parents provides for their child. However, this does not mean that a court picks which home is “nicer” or “bigger,” but rather which one provides a more stable, loving environment for a child.
Judges also take into account the preferences of the parents as well as the child if the child is old enough to make an intelligent and informed choice. Further, courts will look at the child’s current living situation, where each parent lives, where siblings or other family lives and what kinds of opportunities exist for visitation.
Child custody battles can be difficult on both parents and children. If at all possible, it is best for parents to attempt to reach an independent custody agreement to save the emotion and expense that goes into disputing it in court. If you are going through a divorce and need to reach a child custody agreement with your spouse, consult a dedicated La Plata family law attorney with Mudd Mudd & Fitzgerald for the advice you need.