During the divorce process, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will need to decide on child custody. If you still get along well enough to create your own parenting plan, great. If not, you will need to appear in divorce court so that the judge can decide for you.
The judge’s decision will be in the best interests of your child. But then again, your child’s best interests would have been your driver as well because it is at the top of the priority list. Making decisions regarding child custody difficult but the judge can help. All that matters is that your child gets what they need so that they can be happy and live a good life.
What goes into making the decision about custody?
The law in Maryland assumes that both you and your spouse are the natural custodians of your child. That means that you are on equal footing. Either of you can petition the court. If you are not able to come to an agreement together, the court will either grant custody to one of you or both of you.
When it comes to the best interests of your child, the judge will decide on the specific child custody arrangement that seems best. The judge will consider certain factors when weighing the decision. Custody consists of two components: legal and physical custody. Custody and visitation arrangements are generally not permanent because situations are bound to change over time. If that happens, one of the parents will most likely petition the court again to modify the child custody arrangement.
What are the different types of child custody?
There are a few different types of child custody.
- Emergency custody: If your child is in a situation that has a large amount of risk (and possibly danger), this may be a temporary solution. Because the situation that prompted the request for this type of custody and time is of the essence, a decision will probably be made quickly. Emergency should always be considered temporary, which means that the process to decide on some sort of permanent custody must continue even after emergency custody has already been granted.
- Joint custody: Within joint custody, there are three sub-categories:
- Joint legal custody: With this type of custody, you and your spouse will work together and share in the care and control of raising the child as well as having input into the decisions that must be made on behalf of the child. However, the child will only live in one primary residence.
- Shared physical custody: With this type of custody, the child has two primary residences and spends a minimum of 35% of their time with each parent.
- A combination of joint legal custody and shared physical custody
- Legal custody: This type of custody means that the parent has the right to make major decisions and can make long-range plans on behalf of the child. Some of the major decisions might involve religious education, medical care (not emergency), discipline as well as other decisions that are related to the welfare of the child.
- Physical custody: This type of custody means that the parent will spend time with the child and will make decisions regarding the child’s needs on a daily basis (including the decision about where the child will live). Another name for physical custody is parenting time.
- Temporary custody: This type of custody is pretty self-explanatory. Sometimes, it is necessary for one parent or the other (or someone else in the child’s life) to have custody for a short period of time. As with the other decisions regarding the child, this type of custody will also be based on the best interests of the child. The custody will only be in effect until a permanent decision has been made regarding the child.
Making decisions regarding child custody can be overwhelming and daunting and having an experienced shoulder to lean on and learn from may make a tremendous difference to your case and to how easily you can arrive at the important decisions that you need to make. The advice of an attorney who can guide you and help you to protect your rights may be invaluable.