Compassion. Knowledge. Dedication.
Child custody is a term that refers to both legal and physical custody of minor children.
A parent with legal custody decides on long-term decisions involving the child’s life, including education, religion, medical care, and other major decisions concerning the child’s general health and welfare. Parents of their children have joint legal custody unless the court orders otherwise.
Physical custody is the time each parent spends with the child. The term “primary residential parent” means just as it sounds: the parent with whom the child primarily resides. The majority of children whose parents do not live together primarily reside with one of their parents; however, a growing number of children for an equal, or nearly equal, amount of time with parents who do not live together.
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:
No, there is no maternal preference. Neither parent is given preference solely because of their sex. Parents are considered joint natural guardians of their children.
Yes. A parent’s access to their child is not conditional upon their payment of child support. Child support and access are two separate issues. The court does not look favorably on a parent who withholds visits from the parent that owes child support. Instead, to enforce a child support order, the parent owed the child support should file a petition for contempt for non-payment of support and use the court process to deal with the unpaid child support.
Yes, you must show that there has been a material change in circumstance since the entry of the last Order to meet the burden to modify it. Some examples of material changes are a child’s increase in age; a child wanting to spend more time with one parent; or a change in the child’s grades.