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Child Custody

Maryland Child Custody

Child Custody in Maryland

If you are a parent, nothing matters more to you than your children. When you are divorcing or ending a relationship with your children’s other parent, the issue of child custody is naturally foremost in your mind. You may have questions like: How much time will I have with our children? How involved will I be in the decisions that shape their lives? How will my relationship with them change?

At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, we understand these issues because we are attorneys, and we are also parents. As parents, we understand and share your concerns for your children’s well-being. As experienced family law attorneys, we are committed to doing everything possible to achieve a favorable outcome in your child custody matter.

Physical and Legal Custody

When discussing child custody in Maryland, it is important to distinguish between the two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody, also known as residential custody or the access schedule, refers to the amount of time the children spend with each parent on a regular basis. Physical custody can be granted primarily to one parent, but is often shared, though not necessarily equally. In all events, the court has substantial discretion to fashion a physical custody arrangement that promotes the children’s well-being.

Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions regarding your children, such as where they will go to school, what medical care they will receive, and in what religion, if any, they will be raised. Similar to physical custody, legal custody may be sole or joint, and the courts have the authority to fashion multiple forms of legal custody arrangements.

How Child Custody is Determined in Maryland

No one understands what your family needs like you do. That is why, if at all possible, it is ideal for you and your children’s other parent to agree on a legal custody and time-sharing arrangement that works for you and your children. This is referred to as a parenting, or custody, agreement. A custody agreement allows you to devise creative solutions that a judge may not have the power (or inclination) to order, and often yields an arrangement both parents may follow more willingly.

If you are unable to reach an agreement, either on your own or with the help of your attorneys, the court will decide the custody arrangement for the family. Determinations regarding physical and legal custody are made at a Custody Merits Trial, and are based on a standard known as “the best interests of the child.” To determine what may be in the best interests of the child during a custody dispute, the court will consider such factors as:

  • Who is the child’s primary caregiver
  • The psychological and physical fitness of each parent
  • The character and reputation of each parent
  • The ability of each parent to help the child maintain relationships with extended family members
  • The preference of the child
  • The financial resources each parent has to provide the child with material things
  • The age and health of the child
  • How close the parents live to each other, and to the child’s school, friends, etc.
  • How long a parent has been separated from the child
  • Whether there is a history of one parent abandoning the family
  • The parents’ religious views, to the extent they affect the child’s physical or emotional well-being
  • Any existing agreement between the parents regarding custody

While at one time it was more common for mothers to be granted custody, the gender of a parent is no longer an allowed consideration when a court decides what is in the best interests of the children. Since the law has no automatic preference for one parent, all parents need to make sure they have an experienced custody attorney presenting evidence to the court that will portray their position in the most favorable light.

Complex Child Custody Matters

Unfortunately, child custody matters can become contentious even under ordinary circumstances. However, when complicating factors are presented, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, questions regarding the fitness of one or both parents, relocation of a parent to another state or country, or special needs of the children, it is critical that you have an experienced advocate to guide you and to represent you in court, if needed. Your attorney must understand all of the unique circumstances of your case, have detailed knowledge of how the courts work and view particular custody issues and must have detailed knowledge of the applicable law.

Our attorneys have decades of experience in handling Maryland custody matters involving complex issues, including interstate and international custody as well as relocation issues. When necessary, we will also involve outside professionals such as therapists and custody evaluators as needed to support your goals and strengthen your custody position.

How We Help with Your Custody Matter

We understand the stress and challenges of a custody dispute. At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, we combine extensive experience in divorce and custody matters with a strategic, analytical approach to achieving our clients’ goals. We are equally at ease helping our clients negotiate a custody arrangement designed for their unique needs and advocating for them at trial if necessary.

We invite you to contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield to schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns and learn how we can help you with your custody matter.


“Great lawyer to work with. Excellent communicator and listener. Courtroom skills exceptional. Would highly recommend for any family law situation.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Review
“I highly recommend Geoff. He and his all-star team assisted me through a difficult and contentious divorce and child custody case. Geoff’s knowledge and personal relationships really assisted in the positive outcome of my case. Geoff was efficient throughout the…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Avvo Review
“Took a personalized approach to my complex divorce and was available to achieve an outcome beyond my highest expectations.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Review
“Strategic and Pragmatic. Geoff has seen plenty of situations and how they play out. Geoff has an expert understanding of the process. Geoff does a great job of communication and letting you know what’s going on by including you in…”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Avvo Review
“One of the most dedicated, fair, competent, patient attorneys I have had the pleasure of dealing with. He has helped myself and many others through some difficult times. He is a very good listener and can direct you in the…”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Review
“Excellent at simultaneously executing specific tactical aspects of the case while maintaining overall macro view.”
– Family Law Attorney
“I have worked with Geoffrey S. Platnick as an expert witness in several cases and find him to be an excellent attorney with a real interest in his clients.”
– Child Custody Expert , ★★★★★ Review
“Absolutely amazing during a very difficult time.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Review
“He is a brilliant lawyer, a fantastic strategist, willing to resolve cases through mediation but kick butt in court if that is required, and in the final analysis, effective in achieving his clients’ goals. One of the really great ones.…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Martindale-Hubbell Review
“A very empathetic and diligent person and attorney. His tact in suggesting acceptable solutions to emotionally charged situations and sensitivity to child issues that can easily get neglected in the egoic fracases in such cases is truly exemplary. I am,…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Martindale-Hubbell Review