Getting full custody over a child – both legal and physical custody – according to Maryland legislation requires that you fulfill the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ standard. This requires that you establish both the relative incompetence of the minor’s other guardian compared to your abilities.
When addressing the types of custody available in Maryland, two options appear: legal and physical. Physical guardianship refers to with whom the child will reside, and who will make decisions regarding the minor’s daily needs. On the other hand, legal guardianship governs the long-term decisions made regarding the minor’s future such as their education, religious training, discipline, and non-emergency medical care. Full guardianship constitutes both sole physical guardianship and sole legal guardianship.
While courts in Maryland prefer establishing default, joint guardianship agreements, there are circumstances where one –parent is given the entire right to guardianship. The one case where this is a predetermined outcome is if spouse, or the second party demanding guardianship has committed a sexual offence where the minor was the victim, or if they committed an act of violence that threatened the minor’s life. Other than this case, for a parent to win full guardianship they must convince the Court that they are in fact much more qualified to care for the minor.
In Maryland, the first predominant factor that may signify a winning custody deal is if you are the established primary caretaker. Very little presumptive bias is involved in custody cases; however, primary caretakers (the party responsible for directly caring for and treating the child) are given priority and favor. If otherwise, then gaining full guardianship will require greater evidence.
If the opposing party has had a documented criminal history, or any form of past suspicious behavior, this may act in your favor by proving their incompetency in offering a stable and conducive environment for the child.
The Court in Maryland will also take into account factors regarding each parent’s financial and personal status. To demonstrate efficacy at supporting a child, it is necessary to have a healthy reputation, proper physical and psychological fitness, good character, and corroborative financial status sufficient (and preferably superior to that of the opposing party) to support a child. Testimony, custodial evaluations, professional assessments and observations, and documents/statements may be offered to prove the aforementioned.
Once you establish relative competency, it is necessary to show a willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the second party in the case you win full custody. By doing so, the court may feel greater leniency in offering you a more generous custodial status. This must be demonstrated throughout and after the trial through well-documented visitations, regular parental involvement, and a willingness to keep the parent-child contact healthy.
Finally, there are numerous coincidental factors over which you should have no control, such as your living circumstances, your proximity to the child’s established residence, the child’s personal preference, the closeness of relatives, your employment stability, and whether you’re remarried (or intend to).
It is important to note that even after full guardianship is established; it is not a permanent settlement, and may be altered if significant changes occur in either (custodial and non-custodial) parent’s status. Throughout the custody battle, it is recommended to seek professional consultation and court representation through a qualified attorney with experience in divorces and child custody cases.
If you need a Maryland child custody lawyer to help you with your minor guardianship case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child custody attorneys can help you. C