Joint Custody in Maryland: It is Not Presumed

Joint custody is not presumed by Maryland courts to be the custody arrangement in the best interest of children.   Maryland courts decide custody based upon the “best interests of the children” legal standard.  Generally speaking, Maryland courts tend to hold to the view that children should have a meaningful relationship with both parents to the extent that is possible.  However, the court will not presume that joint custody is in the best interest of the child.  Maryland courts determine custody on a case-by-case basis considering the individual circumstances of each family and a host of different factors.  For that reason, it is difficult to predict the outcome

Because the “the best interests of the child” standard for custody determination is rather nebulous, it is not easy to know what set of factors tips the balance more in favor of one custody decision versus another.  In light of that fact, it is often advisable for parties to reach their own agreement regarding custody, guided by an experienced Annapolis, Maryland family law attorney or mediator, rather than leave the decision to a family law judge who will have limited visibility into the needs of a particular child and the personal dynamics between the parents.  One saving grace is that custody decisions are not fixed in stone and may be modified upon a “material change in circumstances.”

As family law attorneys in Maryland, the issue of child custody is perhaps one of the most hotly disputed areas in family law.  The stakes for parents and children alike are enormously high.  And it is not uncommon that regardless of the outcome, one side is unhappy with the court’s decision.  As Maryland family law attorneys we are frequently asked by clients to assess their chances of getting the custodial arrangement that he/she desires.  To do so is not a small task.