Prince Frederick Child Custody Attorney Serving Southern Maryland
If you are getting divorced and you have children together, decisions regarding the custody of those children are likely the most important issues you’ll have to deal with. They may also be the most emotional issues, and the most hard-fought or contested as well. Maryland family law judges make child custody decisions that they determine are in the best interests of the children, but the judges only know what you tell them. At Meng Law, our Prince Frederick child custody attorneys prepare and present a strong case with supporting evidence and compelling reasons to guide the judicial child custody determination. Learn more below about the factors that go into a child custody decision in Maryland, and contact Meng Law in Prince Frederick for advice and representation in a divorce or child custody dispute in Calvert, St. Mary’s, Charles or Prince George’s County.
Different types of Child Custody in Maryland
At the outset, it’s important to distinguish between two types of child custody in Maryland – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to which parent has actual physical possession of the child, has responsibility for the child’s well-being, and where the child lives. Physical custody can be given solely to one parent or two both parents jointly. In either case, one parent generally has the majority of custodial time and is referred to as the primary residential parent. The other parent may have custody or visitation or may be referred to as the non-custodial parent. When both parents have custody at least 35% of the time, this is known as shared custody. Shared custody equals at least 128 overnights for each parent and impacts how child support is calculated in a Maryland divorce.
Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding a child’s upbringing in areas such as education, religion, medical care, hobbies and extracurricular activities, social life, etc. As with physical custody, legal custody can be given solely to one parent or shared jointly. Physical custody and legal custody do not have to be the same type, either; for instance, the parents can share physical custody, but one parent may be the decision maker for certain types of decisions. Also, one parent can have full physical custody but still need to consult with the other parent on important child-rearing matters.
Factors that Determine Custody in the Child’s Best Interest
The divorcing parties can decide for themselves how to arrange physical and legal custody. If they can’t decide, the judge will determine what type of custody arrangement is in the children’s best interests. In making these decisions, the judge will look at the totality of the circumstances based on the evidence submitted and the arguments made by each parent’s attorney. Some of the factors which may influence the judge’s decision include:
- Which parent is the primary caregiver for the children
- The fitness, character and reputation of both parents
- The financial resources of each parent
- The residence of each parent in terms of proximity to the children’s school, friends and other family members
- Whether one parent would be better at helping the children maintain family relationships
- The relationship between the children and each parent
- How the age and sex of the children might influence the custody decision
- The preference of the children
- The existence of a custody agreement between the parents
- Any evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse by either parent
Meng Law Attorneys Will Fight for You in Maryland Child Custody Matters
At Meng Law, our attorneys can work with you and your co-parent to reach agreement on child custody matters informally or through divorce mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, count on our experienced courtroom lawyers to litigate on your behalf forcefully and effectively. Our comprehensive Southern Maryland family law practice is also available when you or your co-parent is seeking a modification of the custody arrangement post-divorce. Perhaps the child’s needs have changed, or one parent desires to relocate out-of-state. Modifying a custody order requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, that the modification would be in the best interests of the children, and that the modification would not be detrimental to the kids. We can help prepare and present a strong case that argues effectively for your interests in any child custody modification.
Committed and Passionate Prince Frederick Child Custody Attorneys
For help with a child custody dispute in Southern Maryland, call Meng Law in Prince Frederick at 410-535-5500 to speak with a compassionate and dedicated Prince Frederick child custody attorney.