In a divorce where a child or children are involved, both spouses have an equal chance of gaining custody as the law in Maryland doesn’t favour a certain parent over another but rather looks at the best interest of the child. Courts judgments of child custody and visitation agreements are not permanent and a parent can always petition to modify this agreement.
As well as shared physical custody there are other types of custody a court can order. These include temporary custody, legal and physical custody, sole legal or physical custody, split custody and joint custody. Shared physical custody means that each parent shares the amount of time a child lives with them. They will share being the primary caregiver and will both provide the child with food, shelter and clothing equally.
In Maryland, parents can come to an agreement of having shared physical custody and the Maryland court encourages that parents reach their own agreement before resulting to the court. The most important factors for shared physical custody include the ability for both parents to come to an agreement, child’s relationship with each parent, child’s preference, age and number or children and each parent’s employee consideration such as long working hours or travelling. In order for the shared physical custody to be enforceable, the court must sign a consent order to approve it.
When the parents cannot come to an agreement, the court in Maryland will look at many factors before awarding shared physical custody, such as the ability of each parent to care for the child and the character and reputation of each parent. To qualify for shared physical custody in Maryland one parent has to host the child for at least 128 nights every year or 35 percent of the year. The more each parent hosts in overnights the less child support they will have to pay.
There are many benefits to shared physical custody. Living in both households means that the child will maintain strong relationships with both parents. Children will also benefit if both parents are co-operative and there is no ongoing child custody battles. Joint physical custody may lessen the sense of rejection a child may feel when one parent moves out. Children may also benefit materially.
However, there are some disadvantages of shared physical custody. Children will have to go back and forth between households and may affect their daily routines. The lack of control and chaos in the child’s life may create psychological impacts. Expenses are greater in maintaining two full residences. If the parents have unresolved issues then negotiation with regard to the child’s everyday activities may make sharing physical custody worse.
Shared physical custody works best when parents can maintain a civil relationship. Arrangements will have to be planned around the child’s needs and plans. Schedules should be predictable and stable but flexible to change in certain circumstances. If the parents live in the same town it makes shared physical custody easier. Parents should also support each other, especially in the child’s presence. And there should be sufficient financial resources to maintain two households.