Child custody agreements and orders can look very different based on the needs of children and families. Two couples may go through divorces in the same community and end up with significantly diverse custody orders from their family law courts. That is because courts are tasked with producing child custody plans that work to support the best interests of the children who will be governed by them.
The goal of child custody proceedings is to provide the rules by which parents support and care for their kids following a separation or divorce. The contents of this post should not be read as legal advice, and readers should understand that the outcomes of their child custody cases will depend on factors related to their specific cases.
Types of child custody in Maryland
There are two types of child custody generally recognized in the United States, and two ways that those custodial duties can be distributed between parents. The two types of custody are:
- Legal custody: The power of a parent to make child-rearing decisions.
- Physical custody: The power of a parent to have their child live with them.
Parents can share both forms of custody in joint custody plans or both forms of custody can be granted to one parent with the other receiving visitation rights. Custody can also divided so that both parents have legal custody of their kids but only one parent has physical custody of them.
How courts look at child custody options
The best interests of the children guide child custody decisions, and a lot of different factors can be weighed to establish a child’s best interests. Courts can look at the ability of the child’s parents to provide them with care and love, as well as the relationships that the child has with their parents, siblings, and others within their communities.
Children do not have a say in how their custody is determined but children who are at least 16 years of age can request changes to their custody plans.