The Basics of Child Custody in Maryland

Navigating child custody can be a complex and emotional process when parents separate or divorce. In the state of Maryland, child custody is determined by what is in the best interests of the child, with both parents having the right to seek custody. In this article, Rodier Family Law discusses the basics of child custody in Maryland.


Types of Custody in Maryland

There are two types of custody in Maryland: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, including education, medical care and religion. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who takes care of them on a day-to-day basis.


Joint Custody

In Maryland, parents are often awarded joint custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents share equal decision-making power to make major decisions about the child’s welfare. One parent may also have joint legal custody with tie-breaking authority in the event the parents are not able to reach a joint decision. Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant time with both parents, although the time is not necessarily equal. Joint custody can work well if the parents can communicate effectively and put their differences aside for the sake of the child.


Sole Custody

Sole legal custody means that one parent has the legal authority to make decisions concerning the child’s welfare. Sole physical custody is when one parent has the overwhelming majority of or all of the custody time of the minor children. For example,, if one parent is deemed unfit, such as due to substance abuse, neglect, or domestic violence, the other parent may be awarded sole custody.


Factors Considered by the Court

When determining custody arrangements, the court must consider a range of factors, including the child’s age, health, and needs, the parent’s ability to care for the child, the parents’ fitness and character, and the child’s relationships with each parent. The court may also consider the child’s preference if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasoned preference.



If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the other parent is typically granted visitation or access rights. Visitation or child access can take many forms, from supervised visits to unsupervised overnights. Visitation schedules can be flexible or fixed, depending on the needs of the child and the parents.


Modifying Custody Arrangements

Custody arrangements can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances that affects the welfare of the child and a modification of the existing custody order is in the minor child’s best interest. For example, if one parent moves out of state, if the child’s needs change, or if one parent becomes unfit to care for the child, the court may modify the custody arrangement.


Contact The Child Custody Attorneys At Rodier Family Today 

Child custody is a sensitive and complex matter, and the court’s priority is always the best interests of the child. Custody arrangements may be modifiable if circumstances change. If you are facing a child custody issue, contact Rodier Family Law today to protect your rights and the best interests of your child.