Best Interests of the Child

When it comes to custody decisions, courts make decisions based on the “best interest of the child” standard. This is determined on a case-by-case basis, and our experienced Maryland child custody attorneys are specially equipped to advise you further in this regard.

Courts take an overall view of the child’s best interest by considering the following factors:

  • The fitness of the parents
  • The character and reputation of the parents
  • The natural parents’ desires based on any agreements between them
  • The possibility of maintaining natural family relations
  • The child(ren)’s preference if old enough and able to make a rational judgment
  • Material opportunities that will affect the child’s future life
  • The age, health, and sex of the child
  • Where each parent lives and the feasibility of the non-custodial parent visiting
  • Amount of time the child has been separated from the natural parent who is seeking custody
  • The impact of a prior voluntary abandonment or surrender of custody

When parents seek joint physical and/or legal custody, the court considers additional factors, such as:

  • The willingness of each parent to share custody (including whether or not parents can or will communicate)
  • The psychological and physical health of each parent
  • The bond between child and each parent
  • The effect shared physical custody will have on the child’s social and school life
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The demands of each parent’s employment
  • The number of children involved and their ages
  • The motive behind the parents’ request
  • Financial status of the parents
  • Impact on state or federal assistance
  • Benefit to the parents

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