A Child Custody Lawyer Focused on What Matters
When child custody is at issue, we advocate for your interests by focusing on the outcome you believe is best for your child.
In a divorce or other family law matter, there are few issues more important than child custody. Child custody matters can be contentious and emotional, and since you need to focus on your child and their best interests during this time, you need an experienced lawyer who shares your centered approach and can focus on getting you and your family the results you want. Not only do we know how to navigate the many nuanced factors that may complicate your case — be it substance use disorder, infidelity, bankruptcy, or mental health challenges, we also know the key to the outcome you want is getting back to what matters most: your child.
What is Child Custody?
A catch-all legal term that encompasses the rights and responsibilities of any parent caring for their child. Under Maryland law, both custody and visitation determinations are evaluated against a “best interest” analysis. Aptly named, this type of thoughtful analysis is applied to each case to determine the outcome that’s in the child’s best interest.
There are two types of custody in Maryland: legal custody and physical custody.
Rooted in decision-making, legal custody concerns responsibility for the most critical choices a parent can make in their child’s life, like where they attend school, their religious affiliation, and which doctor they see (and how often they go).
Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where a child spends their time. Parents awarded physical custody might divide and share access, each having time with their child as dictated by the schedule that’s been set.
Is it always this straightforward? No. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the child’s distinct needs, courts may mix and match these two types of custody in a variety of ways. Case in point: parents can have joint legal custody and share physical custody, or one parent can have sole legal custody but share physical custody…to name just a couple possible scenarios. But no matter what considerations are at play, custody cases will always be decided by prioritizing what’s right for the child above all.
Factors the Court Considers in Determining Custody:
The court takes numerous factors into account when making custody and visitation arrangements, including but not limited to:
- Physical distance between the parents
- Past parental disagreements
- Age/health of the child
- Parental income
- Parental employment
- Parents’ ability to co-parent
- Involvement and proximity of additional family members
- Child’s community involvement
The Best Interest Analysis
In the world of custody, what’s best for the child is always the legal priority. That’s why the factors the court considers (outlined above) are carefully analyzed to craft a picture of each child’s ideal living situation on a case-by-case basis. Whether sole or shared custody is determined to be the best match, the parenting schedule is designed to reflect an enduring emphasis on the child’s specific needs, lifestyle, and future.
Parenting Plan Requirements
The best way to maintain your child's routine when navigating domestic change is to have a clear, actionable plan. That’s where parenting plans come in – an agreement that helps keep your child’s life as stable as possible while minimizing miscommunication between the two parties along the way. If you can’t agree on one together, the court requires that each of you submit your own plan detailing how you would raise your child from a logistical standpoint; once submitted, the two will then be compared side by side. Parenting plans must address issues such as:
- Special occasions (vacation, holidays)
- Extraneous child-rearing choices
Finding the Right Child Custody Attorney in Maryland
As you navigate this challenging time, a trusted legal team who can help you make rational, well-guided decisions is essential. At ZFL, we believe that the best attorney for you is usually the one that feels right from the start. When it comes to custody of your kids, the importance of finding strategic and compassionate counsel focused solely on family law cannot be understated. By combining our vast legal experience, our tenured team can design a tailored strategy to help you take back your power and build the new beginning you deserve.