Howard County, MD, Child Custody Lawyers
When couples who have a child together decide to divorce, the issue of child custody is often the most important, as well as the most emotional and contentious, aspect of the divorce. It is important to approach this matter carefully and with the best interests of the children in mind. Attorney Fred Coover of the Coover Law Firm in Columbia is skilled and experienced in Howard County child custody disputes and is dedicated to the resolution of custody matters in an atmosphere of mutual respect and sensitivity to the child’s needs. Let us help you resolve your divorce or child custody matter with personal attention to long-term needs and lasting family relationships.
Maryland Child Custody Law
Child custody can be granted in many different ways under Maryland law, including sole custody, joint custody, shared custody and split custody. Often times, one parent is either granted sole custody or is considered the primary residential parent, and the other parent has visitation according to an agreed-upon or court-ordered schedule. When both parents take turns having custody of the child, this is known as shared physical custody. In a shared custody arrangement, each parent will typically have the child for at least 35% of the time.
Another aspect of custody is what is known as legal custody. In other words, who has the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s education, religion, health care and other aspects of the child’s upbringing? The court may grant either sole or joint legal custody. Even if one parent has sole or primary physical custody, the court may still order that important decisions be made jointly.
Maryland law does not set out a list of factors for the judge to look at in deciding how to award custody. Instead, the judge is instructed to look at the “totality of circumstances” in determining the custody and visitation arrangement. However, asking the following questions is a good way to approach the question of how custody should be decided:
- Who is the child’s primary care giver?
- Who is the most fit parent?
- Which parent is best able to maintain relationships between the child and the extended family?
- What does the child want regarding custody?
- Which parent has the most resources?
- What is the age and gender of child?
- Which parent lives closest to the child’s school, friends, other family members?
- Has one parent become estranged from the child following a lengthy separation?
In the case of either joint legal custody or shared physical custody, it is important that the parents can get along well enough with each other to make a joint arrangement work. For the most part, parents are expected to stick to a plan and work out disagreements between themselves without rushing back to court every time a problem arises. Ongoing litigation can be harmful to the child and may not always be the best solution. However, in appropriate circumstances, we assist parties in post-divorce motions and litigation to make sure their needs are met.
Get Help Today from an Experienced Maryland Child Custody Lawyer
Given the wide latitude the judge has in deciding custody matters, it is imperative that you prepare a persuasive case for your position and are ready to challenge or defend against arguments made by the other spouse in a custody dispute. The Coover Law Firm in Columbia stands ready to help you through this difficult time with practical, solution-oriented advice and tough, effective litigation when needed. For assistance with a divorce or child custody matter in Howard County or surrounding areas, contact the Coover Law Firm for help.