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Best Interests of the Child

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If you are in the process of a divorce with children, you will likely have serious concerns regarding child support and child custody. Ultimately, family courts will make decisions regarding minor children based on a legal theory known as the best interests of the child. While this is oftentimes subjective, the judge will attempt to examine the emotional, physical, and socioeconomic interests of the child, and where they will receive the best quality of life. In most cases, the courts will grant both parents legal and physical custody. However, there are several factors that may be examined by a court to determine the amount of time each parent receives with their child. Understanding how the best interest of the child standard operates can help you determine the best approach to your child custody concerns.

Factors Affecting the Best Interest of the Child

  1. Fitness of the parents
  2. Character and reputation of the parties
  3. Desire of the natural parents and agreements between parents
  4. Potentiality of maintaining natural family relations
  5. Preference of the child
  6. Material opportunities affecting the future life of the child
  7. Age, health and sex of the child.
  8. Residence of the parents and opportunity for visitation.
  9. Length of the separation from natural parents
  10. Prior voluntary abandonment or surrender
  11. Capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare
  12. Willingness of the parents to share custody
  13. Relationship established between the child and each parent
  14. Geographic proximity of the parental homes
  15. Demands of parental employment.
  16. Number of children.
  17. Potential disruption of the child’s school and/or social life
  18. Sincerity of the parents request
  19. Financial status of the parents
  20. Benefit to the parents

While the best interests of the child is ultimately a subjective standard set forth in case law, many Maryland courts will consider similar types of questions and answers to make their determinations:

  • Does one parent foster and encourage the other to have a close relationship with their child without adversity or confrontational behavior?
  • Does the parent act responsibility and reasonably regarding matters that relate to the child?
  • Does the parent follow an already established routine and parenting schedule during the divorce process with minimal confrontational behaviors?
  • Does the parent exhibit the emotional capacity to place the child’s needs above their own?
  • Does the parent provide a stable physical and emotional environment as it relates to their academics, outside activities, and family?
  • Do the parents live in close proximity to each other? Would the child have challenges and disruptions regarding attending school and activities if the custody was split 50/50?
  • Does the parent provide a consistent routine for the child regarding their school, health, activities, bedtime, homework, and time with family and friends?
  • Where is the child currently attending school, or where does the child currently have activities?
  • Has either parent been accused or charged with any sexual abuse, child abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect towards either the child in the custody case or any other child?
  • Does the parent have a record of any violence or felonies?
  • Did either parent lie or provide false records to the court at any time?
  • Does the parent act appropriately with the child with respect to the court proceedings, and shield them from adversarial conflict by limiting discussions with the child about the legal proceedings?
  • Does the parent speak positively or negatively about the other parents?
  • Does the child have a preference regarding child custody matters?
  • Is there any physical or emotional benefit to separating the child from one parent?

Let Us Help You Today

If you are in the process of a divorce or are considering a divorce, you are likely concerned about how your child custody and visitation with your child will look after the divorce is finalized. Contact the experienced Prince Frederick child custody attorneys serving Southern Maryland Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s County at the offices at Meng Law at 410-535-5500 or online today.

Resource:

childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/statutes/best-interest/

https://www.menglaw.com/child-custody-modifications-in-maryland/

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