Maryland Divorce Custody
Maryland divorce custody guidelines are based on the premise that the best interests of the child should be safeguarded and the state should ensure welfare and security to the child while ruling divorce custody cases. Following factors are considered while awarding child custody in Maryland
- Maryland courts may award joint custody of the child, where both the parents have equal rights regarding legal and sometimes even physical custody of the child.
- For practical reasons, physical custody of the child in joint custody cases is awarded to the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child. It means that the parent has been involved in grooming of the child, dressing the child up, preparing meals, taking care of the dental and physical hygiene etc, The other parent gets the visitation rights and thus, has access to the child during weekends, vacations, holidays etc.
- Courts handling Maryland divorce cases advise parents to formulate visitation schedule and a sound parenting plan so that their child gets the benefits of both of their parenting. If the divorce parents are unable to make such an arrangement then Maryland courts are known to suggest child custody mediation. Here, a third neutral party helps the divorced spouses to formulate a visitation plan which keeps the best interests of the child intact.
- Sole custody is not awarded based on the gender of the child; in fact, the parent who can meet the emotional, social, religious and educational needs of the child is preferred. This is awarded if one parent is found to be indulging in child abuse or child neglect, is physically unfit or has police records of domestic abuse. The other parent automatically gets the custody of the child.
- Maryland courts look into the parent-child bonding while deciding to which parent child custody be awarded. The parent who is closer to the child and provides emotional support to the child is most likely to win the custody battle. The child’s preferences for the parent with whom he/she wishes to stay are asked if the child is considered intelligent and mature enough to form an opinion. If the child gives a sound reason for his/her parental preference, then Maryland courts award custody to that parent only.
- According to child custody laws in Maryland, a child of 16 years and above (till the age of 18), can file a petition to modify the custody order placed on him/her.
- Child support is calculated based on the incomes of both the parents unless one parent is found to be financially weak and unable to provide any child support. Child support is to meet the financial requirements of the child which include his/her clothing, food, educational, medical or health expenses.
- Child support is provided till the child reaches the age of 18 or can be extended if the child has special medical needs. Maryland divorce custody laws require the child support to be terminated if the child joins the defense forces of the country and hence, is emancipated, or has got married.