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All Press Releases for January 22, 2014 »
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Maryland's child custody laws

In Maryland, as in many other states, there is not simply one type of custody but two.
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    January 22, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Any Maryland resident who has lived through a divorce experience can attest to the turmoil and challenges that can be associated with this process. The loss of many dreams as well as assets and other belongings, sometimes including one's home, can take a toll over time. For people with children still at home, the process of determining child custody during a divorce can be one of the hardest parts of all.

No matter how agreeable, any shared responsibility and time with children is also a loss of some time that would otherwise be spent with them. The losses for both parents and children can be great. With that in mind, Maryland formally puts the best interests of the child at the heart of any such custody determination.

Understanding the difference between legal custody and physical custody

In Maryland, as in many other states, there is not simply one type of custody but two. Legal custody refers to the responsibility and the right to make major decisions for a child or children. Such decisions could include a choice of schools or medical care. Physical custody, as the name implies, denotes with whom a child will primarily live.

Some aspects to note about custody include:
- Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents, known as sole or joint legal custody.
- Physical custody can also be awarded to one or both parents.
- It is possible for one form of custody to be awarded to only one parent and the other to be awarded jointly.
- If physical custody is awarded to only one parent, the other parent may still have clearly stated visitation that can include overnight stays.
- From roughly age 12, a child's input can be taken into consideration by a judge when determining custody.

Joint legal and joint physical custody are both considered to be optimal as they retain the highest level of involvement from both parents.

However, there are some cases in which this is not considered to be in the best interests of a child such as where abuse or other violence is known to have taken place.

Mothers and fathers are important

The focus by the state of Maryland on a child's best interests also is seen by the state's desire to keep children connected to both parents. It should not always be assumed that a mother will obtain sole custody as fathers are of high importance as well. Both mothers' and fathers' rights are factored in when determining custody.

If you are in a divorce or headed toward a divorce with minor children, you should talk with an attorney to better understand how to protect your parental rights and help your children.

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