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Can a Child Choose a Custodial Parent in Maryland?

Whenever there is a child custody case, there are many different factors that can impact who is chosen as the custodial parent in Maryland. Unfortunately, there are many myths swirling around what the judge will take into account when making their final decision. Things can get more complicated when the child has a strong preference as to who they would like to get full custody. Here’s what every parent needs to know about whether or not a child can choose a custodial parent in Maryland.

What Are the Types of Custody in Maryland?

The court has a responsibility to decide two different types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions about significant areas of a child’s life, like medical care or religious upbringing. Legal custody can be shared between both parents or awarded solely to one parent. Physical custody, as the name implies, covers who has control over where the child lives and makes day-to-day decisions. Physical custody can also be granted to both parents or just one. Ultimately, the court has the ability to decide the custodial parent in Maryland above any other influence.

What Factors Are Weighed?

The court uses a specific set of factors that help to evaluate what is in the child’s best interest and who is the better custodial parent in Maryland. Some of the factors include:

  • Each parent’s fitness for having physical or legal custody

  • The age, sex and health of the child

  • Each parent’s home environment

  • The willingness of each parent to cooperate with the other parent and the court

  • The relationship that the child has with each parent

  • The geographical proximity of the homes to each other

  • The ages and number of children involved

  • The financial fitness of each parent

  • The child’s preference, if the child is old enough to have rational input

  • Any other factors that the court would like to consider

Because so many factors are involved, there is not any single factor that might outweigh the others. Working with the attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC is critical to ensure that you present a strong case to be the custodial parent in Maryland.

When Does the Court Consider the Preference of the Child?

In the state of Maryland, the court has an obligation to weigh the opinion of the child if the child is considered old and mature enough to make a reasonable choice. In some cases, children are unable to make a realistic choice and would prefer an option that is off the table, like both parents reuniting. The state does not have a strict rule as to what age makes a child mature enough. Instead, they weigh things on a case-by-case basis.

Because there is no strict rule, it’s critical to work with the attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC to show your child’s competence. The court will weigh the child’s preference for the custodial parent in Maryland and determine whether or not the child is mature enough to have their opinion be formally considered. It’s also critical to remember that, even when a child does testify, it will not be the only factor weighed. A young child who is able to clearly state a preference may also have their preference weighted less than a teen who has spent more time living with one parent than another. Superficial preferences, like wanting to live with the parent that lets them watch more television or has a nicer house, will not be considered.

Help When Choosing the Custodial Parent in Maryland from The Attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC

Whether you are searching for an experienced lawyer to assist with your divorce, negotiating child support in Maryland or other issues, The attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today at (410) 324-3267.