Child custody is one of the most difficult issues parents face when a relationship ends. Custody in Maryland involves two parts, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody permits parents to make important decisions on their child’s behalf while physical custody determines where a child spends his or her time. The guiding principle in any custody case is what is in the best interests of the child. Custody will be determined as part of a “parenting plan” which can be agreed upon by the parties themselves, either with or without the assistance of counsel, or through mediation or via settlement in court. If the parties are unable to agree on such a plan, a judge will have to determine what legal and physical custody arrangement is in the best interests of a child.
In some cases, typically where custody is very contentious, a best interest attorney may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child. Additionally, custody issues may not be limited to biological parents. Maryland recognizes third-party custody matters, such as de-facto parenthood cases and where biological parents may be unfit.
Finally, parents sometimes relocate across state lines which would impact the other parent’s ability to spend time with the child. These cases may involve the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and Jeff is skilled in these relocation and jurisdictional issues as well. Finally, custody in Maryland is always modifiable as long as there is a material change of circumstances since the last court order and a change in custody is in the best interests of the child.