In a divorce proceeding, the best interests of any involved children take center stage. When you consult divorce lawyers in Severn, you can expect them to explain the types of child custody and visitation arrangements available in Maryland. Your child custody lawyers will likely point out that the court’s primary concern is determining the best interests of the children. Maryland family law does not limit the court to any particular factors when assessing a child’s best interests; rather, family court judges are instructed to evaluate the totality of circumstances.
Legal and Physical Custody
Your divorce lawyers can help you understand the differences between legal and physical custody. Physical custody refers to the residency of the children. If the father has physical custody of the children, he is said to be the custodial parent and the children live with him. In this situation, the mother is the noncustodial parent. Legal custody refers to the parental right and responsibility to make major decisions on behalf of the children. These decisions include matters pertaining to healthcare, education, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Sole, Joint, and Split Custody
Legal and physical custody may be awarded on a sole, joint, or split basis. Sole custody means that only one parent has physical and legal custody of the child. Parents who share joint physical custody both have significant and ongoing access to the child, but for practical reasons, the child still typically spends the majority of his or her time with one parent. Parents who share joint legal custody must work together to make decisions that are in the child’s best interests. In cases in which there are two or more children, a split custody arrangement may be established. In this situation, one or more of the children will reside with one parent, while the other parent has physical custody of at least one other child.
Denied, Supervised, and Regular Visitation
Inform your family law attorney if circumstances are present that might lead the judge to consider denying the other parent visitation. The court may deny a parent visitation if visitation will place the child in an unsafe situation. However, denied visitation is usually temporary until the situation is resolved. Supervised visitation occurs in a neutral location. Staff monitor visitation between parent and child. If supervision isn’t denied or supervised, the visitation schedule will specify where the child will be on school days, weekends, and vacations.