Child Custody

There are two types of child custody in Maryland:

  • Physical custody is where your child will live.
  • Legal custody is the right to make important decisions for your child.
  • Both types of custody can be sole or joint.

Haley-Pierson Law assists clients in suburban Washington, D.C., and throughout southern Maryland when they need help negotiating and litigating a child custody and visitation agreement. At your initial meeting with us, our attorneys will assess the facts and circumstances of your case as it relates to child custody.


Maryland Physical Child Custody Factors

If you and your spouse cannot agree on who should have primary physical custody of children, the court will make that determination based on what is in the best interests of your children. The court will consider the following factors in making that decision:

  • Fitness of parents
  • Adaptability of the prospective custodian to the task
  • Age, sex and health of child
  • Physical, spiritual and moral well-being of the child
  • The environment and surroundings in which the child will be reared
  • The influences likely to be exerted on the child
  • Desire of the natural parents and any agreements between them
  • The potential for maintaining natural family relations
  • Material opportunities affecting the future life of the child
  • Residences of parents and opportunity for visitation
  • Length of separation of the parents
  • Whether there was a prior voluntary abandonment or separation
  • Any other factors the court deems proper
  • One factor is not more important than the others. Adultery is not one of the issues the court will consider, unless it has an adverse impact on the child.


Maryland Joint Custody Factors

Legal custody is joint by default unless there are good reasons why one of the parents should not be involved in decisions about important issues such as education, religion and education.

In Maryland, physical custody can also be joint based on the above factors plus the following:

  • Capacity of the parents to communicate and to reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare
  • Willingness of parents to share custody
  • Relationship established between the child and each parent
  • Preference of the child
  • Potential disruption of the child’s social and school life
  • Geographic proximity of parental homes
  • Demands of parental employment
  • Age and number of children
  • Sincerity of the parents’ request
  • Financial status of the parents
  • Impact on state or federal assistance
  • Benefit to parents
  • Other factors the court deem proper
Child Custody Modifications

Once you have the initial custody and visitation agreement, you can file a motion to modify that agreement if there is a material change in circumstances.

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