What are Several Types of Child Custody in Maryland?
When unmarried or divorced parents have a minor child in Maryland, they must figure out several aspects of child custody. Depending on the circumstances — not to mention agreements between the parents, if any — there can be numerous types of child custody arrangements. In certain cases, one parent has full legal and physical custody. In other cases, both parents share legal and physical custody.
- What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody refers to the ability to make important decisions on a child’s behalf. Parents with legal custody have influence over significant aspects of their child’s life, including but not limited to discipline, education, religion, healthcare, and similar considerations. As explained in more detail below, there are sole and joint forms of legal custody under Maryland family law.
- What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody refers to the right to spend time with a child in person. Parents with physical custody also have influence over day-to-day needs, such as living conditions, routine, and other regular aspects of life. As covered in more detail below, there are sole and joint forms of physical custody under Maryland family law.
- What is Sole Custody?
Sole custody refers to a situation where one parent has complete custody rights. In certain cases, one parent has sole legal custody and nearly absolute right to make decisions on the child’s behalf. In other cases, one parent has full physical custody and full-time responsibility for the child. Finally, there are cases where one parent has sole legal and physical custody of a child.
- What is Joint Custody?
Joint custody refers to a situation where both parents share custody rights. A joint custody agreement is typically executed to govern this type of shared parental arrangement. In common practice, there are usually three types of joint custody arrangements:
- Shared Physical Custody — The child or children live with each parent for at least 35 percent of their time.
- Joint Legal Custody — Both parents share the responsibility for making decisions on the child’s behalf. In many cases, the parents have 50-50 decision-making power and must agree before taking action. Though in other cases, one parent may have tie-breaking authority over the other parent.
- Combination — These hybrid versions allow the state courts to grant a combination of custody arrangements, such as joint legal custody with sole physical custody or sole legal custody with shared physical custody.
- What is Split Custody?
Split custody refers to a situation where unmarried or divorced parents have multiple children together. In split custody arrangements, one parent has sole custody of some children. And the other parent has full custody of the other children.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about child custody in Maryland, it can be extremely productive to speak with a licensed family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.