There are many different types of child custody available in Maryland, and understanding the terms can be difficult, especially in the middle of an emotional family law case. Here are some of the frequently used child custody terms defined, so you can gain a better understanding of what may be available to you and your family as you move through a custody case.
Temporary Child Custody
Since divorce and child custody cases often take a long time to resolve, temporary custody is almost always awarded so the child may be adequately cared for during the case. This is meant to be a temporary situation until the actual custody determination is made; however, courts often place a lot of importance on who has had temporary custody when making the final decision. In an effort to avoid disrupting the child’s established routine, a court may be hesitant to change the temporary custody situation.
Physical & Legal Custody
Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions regarding important aspects of the child’s life, such as his or her health and education, among other things. Physical custody refers to who will actually physically care for the child. It is possible to have both physical and legal custody, or visitation and legal custody. More often than not, unless one parent shows that he or she is incapable of making legal decisions or there is a case of domestic violence, both parents will share legal custody of the child regardless of how the physical custody arrangements are set up.
Maryland courts recognize that having a meaningful relationship with both parents is an important aspect of healthy childhood development. Joint custody is almost always favored over other types of custody. The goal is to allow the child to have as close to equal time with each parent as possible.
In the event that one parent shows that they are unable to adequately care for a child, sole custody may be awarded to the other parent. These cases are generally reserved for when extenuating circumstances are present, such as in cases where domestic violence has occurred and the child is safer in the custody of just one parent. Visitation may still be allowed, whether limited or supervised, or however the court sees fit.
If you are involved in a child custody case, get the answers you need and ensure that you fully understand every aspect of your case by contacting the Family Legal Advocacy Group, LLC for a consultation. Call now at (410) 884-0400 or (410) 419-4963.