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What Is the “Child’s Best Interest” Standard in Maryland Custody Cases?

One of the most difficult aspects of any divorce involving children is determining custody of children. It’s an emotional process even when the parents are in agreement, and when they’re not, the process can be even more challenging.

If you are facing family law issues during a divorce or child custody case, the Maryland divorce and family law attorneys at The McKeon Law Firm can help. Our caring lawyers understand what you’re going through. We’ll take the time to understand your challenges and provide clear, exceptional legal guidance. We treat your private matters with sensitivity and care, and we’ll develop a legal strategy to meet your goals.

Call our law office today at (301) 417-9222 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.

Child Custody in Maryland

Child custody arrangements specify where and with whom your child lives. They also define how decisions are made for your child regarding schooling, medical care, or parenting.

There are two different types of custody that may be decided upon in a child custody case. The first type is legal custody, which determines which parents have decision-making authority. This may include decisions about the child’s welfare, education, health, and religion. 

Parents may share joint legal custody, where both parents have an equal say in parenting decisions. Alternatively, one parent may have sole legal authority, or the sole discretion of making decisions about childcare.

The second type of custody that may be determined in a child custody case is physical custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and how much time they spend in each home. This is also called parenting time. 

The court may award shared physical custody. Although each parent may have significant time with their child in shared physical custody, it doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split. 

Primary physical custody means that your child spends most of their time with one parent and spends scheduled time with their other parent. 

What Is the “Child’s Best Interest Standard”?

When the judge must make a decision regarding physical and legal custody, it’s made based on the standard of the “child’s best interest.” This term means the judge will make their decision based on what arrangements will be best for the child. 

Regardless of any agreement that you may have reached with your spouse or former spouse, the court is mandated to use this standard when determining child custody. The court considers a list of factors and weighs these against the future of the child. No one factor is more important than any other. 

The child’s best interest standard was established in the court of appeals of Maryland in 1986. These are some of the factors the court considers as they weigh their decision against the best interest of the child standard.

  •       Who has been the child’s primary caregiver up to this point
  •       Physical and psychological fitness of the parent seeking custody
  •       Character and reputation of the parent seeking custody
  •       Child preference
  •       Financial resources of the parents
  •       Residences of both parents and the feasibility of the non-custodial parent visitation
  •       Any prior custody agreement in place
  •       The parent who will help the child maintain family relationships
  •       Age, health, and gender of the child
  •       Any past abandonment or surrender of custody
  •       Parental or child disability
  •       Psychological bond between the child and the parents
  •       Demands of the parent’s employment
  •       Religious views if they affect the physical or emotional well-being of the child

How a Lawyer Can Help

Feeling overwhelmed and worrying about the effects a custody case may have on your children are common feelings. The Bethesda child custody attorneys at The McKeon Law Firm are prepared and equipped to protect your rights and your family’s best interests during a child custody case.

Our compassionate legal team will provide personalized attention and support throughout your case. This means we promptly respond to your communication and pay attention to the details, which makes us better negotiators and understanding litigators.  

To learn how we can help, call our offices at (301) 417-9222 or use our contact form to get in touch.

 

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