In Maryland, custody can be classified under two main categories: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody in Maryland covers all long-term decisions concerning the child such as non-emergency medical care, schooling, religious discipline, and long-term financing plans. Physical custody involves the child’s day to day live, and covers issues of residence and primary care. Note that parents awarded sole or joint physical custody are entitled to emergency medical decisions, which otherwise would not be within their ability.
I’m both cases, either sole or joint custody may be awarded to either types, or a combination of the two may be determined. While sole custody, under very specific circumstances where the child’s best interests exclusively lie with one of the parents, is a viable option, most Courts prefer awarding joint custodies in order to delegate and secure equal involvement by both parents.
In the case of joint physical custody, a child will have two legal residences, that being either parent’s home. Generally, an agreement is made regarding the periods over which either parent can have custody over the child. In some cases, certain (unsupervised) visitation hours can be designated to one parent, in other cases, the days of the year are divided – with each parent having a share; however, most joint physical custodies are established with the child living predominantly in one household, then spending holidays or weekends in another. At times, the very holidays can be divided between the two parents as to suit the child’s best interest.
Note that even during joint custody cases, child support needs to be paid as decided by the court in order for a parent to maintain their custodial rights.
Joint physical custody in Maryland usually requires greater coordination and cooperation by the two parents, and is more suited to couples capable of sharing responsibilities. While joint physical custody may have some disadvantages, it also carries an equal share of advantages. In lieu of a single parent struggling with the compounded expenses and burdens of raising a child, both parents are assigned a share of the burden, with each getting times of respite. Additionally, it has been proven that divorces including joint custodial agreements tend to pass more smoothly than others, with the non-custodial parent showing more willingness to contribute child support. Finally, joint physical custody in Maryland can greatly assuage the traumatic feeling of abandonment encumbered by a child when a parent moves out of their life.
Along with the advantages come a share of disadvantages which include a lack of stability and prevalent chaos in the child’s early years. When parents are unable to agree on a schedule, a child’s early years can be wasted moving between two households on an irregular basis, which can have detrimental effects on the child’s emotional state. Moreover, this can translate into lower performances socially and academically, as it becomes much more difficult for the child to formulate and establish plans and study times. Another impact of joint physical custody includes a rise in expenses, since a child’s needs must be localized independently within each household with a set of toys, clothes, and food supply. Finally, all the aforementioned issues can further be exacerbated if parents have unresolved marital disputes, which can flare with the friction of constant meetings and encounters that entail joint physical custody.
Overall, when establishing joint physical custody in Maryland, it is necessary for both parents to put any personal disputes aside, and try adapt to the delegation of responsibility with their former partner.
If you need a Maryland child custody lawyer to help you with your child custody case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child custody attorneys can help you.