In Maryland, divorcing spouses who have minor children of the marriage are encouraged to create a parenting plan. This plan would include custody provisions, visitation schedules, and allocate parental rights and liabilities between the parents. If the parents fail to reach an agreement, the court shall decide these issues.
Whether child custody is decided by the parents or by the court, child custody in Maryland includes legal and physical custody.
Legal custody means the decision-making authority concerning the child's life and upbringing. Physical custody determines who provides the home for a child and who is in charge of day-to-day care.
Both legal and physical custody may be sole or shared between the parents, depending on the circumstances and the parents' preferences. Joint physical custody typically implies that the child spends some period of the year with each parent, rather than having two residencies at the same time.
The court determines a custody arrangement based on the child's best interests. When considering custody issues in a divorce proceeding, the court takes into account factors such as each party's capacity of childcare, financial circumstances of each parent, age and health of the child, the residences of each parent and opportunities for visitation, the parents' willingness to cooperate in making decisions about the child's life, and more.