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How do Maryland courts decide which parent has primary physical custody?

In Maryland, the court will resolve a custody dispute based on a determination of the child’s best interest. There is no litmus test for deciding what is in the child’s best interest. Custody determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, and can widely vary because of the different facts and circumstances of each case.

Some of the factors the court will consider in custody disputes include some of the following factors, but this is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Fitness of the parents
  • Character and reputation of the parties
  • Willingness of the parents to share custody
  • The preference of the child when the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a rational judgment
  • Capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare
  • The geographic proximity of the parent’s residences and opportunities for time with each parent
  • The ability of each parent to maintain a stable and appropriate home for the child
  • The potential disruption of the child’s social and school life

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