Often the most emotional and difficult decisions in any Maryland divorce concern the couple’s children. It is not easy going from a shared home to two different homes. Not being able to see the children every day can be difficult. Also, there are many times when parents do not see eye to eye on every parenting decision or on how to best raise the children. As a result of these and other issues, child custody decisions can often become contentious.
Child custody decisions are made one of two ways. The parents either reach agreements on legal and physical custody and parenting time, or a judge will ultimately make the decisions for them. These are not easy decisions, but courts make them based on what they determine is in the best interests of the children.
To do this, judges analyze a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
Factors used to determine child custody
- The parents’ ability to provide care for the children
- The parents’ character
- The wishes of the children
- The agreements of the parents
- The children’s ability to maintain relationships with extended family members
- The age and health of the children
- The distance between the parents and the opportunities for the children at each parent’s home
If both parents possess the ability to provide the proper care for the children, judges also may need to decide whether the parents should have joint custody. In making this determination judges will analyze the following factors:
- The ability of the parents to communicate with each other to make decisions and share custody
- Each parent’s work schedule and work demands
- How the shared custody would disrupt the children’s school and social life
Child custody decisions in Maryland are very fact-specific decisions. Judges need to analyze the unique circumstances of each marriage to determine what is in the best interests of the children. Experienced attorneys understand how these factors are analyzed and may be able to guide one through the process.