Maryland Residential Custody Laws

Pretty much anyone who has had to deal with residential custody issues in Maryland knows that the standard for determining a minor child’s custody is the “best interest” test, which seems to be a vague notion at first glance. After all, what determines what is in the best interest of a child or children without saying more about it. A study of Maryland case law, however, provides some guidance on this subject.

Some of the factors that are considered in deciding what is in the best interest of a child are 1) Fitness of the party seeking child custody lawyers in maryland, 2) Adaptability of the prospective custodial parent to the task of raising the child, 3) Age, sex, and health of the child (and which parent could best accommodate them), 4) Physical and moral well-being of the child, 5) The child’s environment, and 6) The influence likely to be exerted on the child. Gillespie v. Gillespie, 206 Md.App. 146 (2012). In some cases, applying the facts to these factors may result in a court order that awards sole residential custody of a child to one parent or joint residential custody to both parents. Under the Equal Protection Clauses of Maryland and U.S. Constitutions, a court may not consider a parent’s gender as a factor in deciding the custody of a child.

The issue can become more complicated when considering some of the factors and applying the parties’ life-style to them. For example, many clients expect that their spouse’s adultery should be a determining factor in deciding their minor child’s residential custody, particularly when the moral well-being of a child is a stated factor in deciding the child’s best interest. But adultery does not become a factor if the child has not been exposed to it. Swain v. Swain 43 Md.App 622 (1979). In other words, a child is not negatively impacted by an adultery that s/he has not been exposed to; obviously, it would be a different situation if an adulterous relationship took place in the presence of a child but that is not a common scenario, and a parent who has exposed the child to his/her adultery probably has neglected the child in many other ways that would negatively impact that parent’s request for custody.

The household where the child resides (or is expected to reside) and its adequacy play a major role in deciding the issue of child custody in Maryland. If the parents have already separated and do not live close to each other after their separation, the parent remaining in the family home where the child resided prior to separation has an advantage because an argument can be made that staying in the marital home would bring stability to the child’s life; in many cases that would allow the child to continue to attend the same school, and maintain the child’s bonds with the his/her friends in the same neighborhood. If you are seeking custody of your child(ren), it would not be prudent to remove yourself from the family home and relocate far from it unless the custody and visitation issues have already been decided by a valid parental agreement or as part of a separation and property settlement agreement.

It is noteworthy that trial courts are prohibited from awarding custody to a parent at a distant future, Schaefer v. Cusak, 124 Md.App 288 (1998), i.e. awarding sole residential custody to one parent but also awarding custody to be changed to joint residential custody 2 years from the trial date. A court custody order is always subject to modification and a parent can petition the court to change the custody schedule provided that there were material and/or significant change in circumstances since the court last entered a custody order that would justify modifying it.

Make sure to review our family law FAQ page for additional information regarding Maryland custody laws. Contact us for an appointment if you would like to schedule a consultation for additional information, or are seeking experienced, aggressive representation in your custody case in Maryland. (301) 309-9002.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email


No Attorney-Client Relationship Created by Use of this Website. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Kamkari Law Offices (hereinafter “Law Offices”) or one of its lawyer(s) creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices and/or any of its attorneys. You will become a client of the Law Offices only if and when you sign and engagement agreement setting forth the scope of the Law Offices’ engagement, the fee arrangement and other relevant matters. As a matter of policy, the Law Offices does not accept a new client without first investigating for possible conflicts of interests and obtaining a signed retainer agreement or engagement letter. (The Law Offices may, for example, already represent another party involved in your matter.)

No Confidentiality. You may not use this website to provide confidential information about a legal matter of yours to the Law Offices. Your use of this website does not make you a client of the Law Offices or even a prospective client of the Law Offices. If you have confidential information that you would like to give to any lawyer affiliated with the Law Offices, please communicate with one if the Law Offices’ lawyer(s) in person or by telephone–not by filling in any form on this website or by sending an unsolicited email to the Law Offices or any of its lawyer(s).

No Legal Advice Intended. This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues problems.

No Intent to Refer Matters to Other Firms. Unless otherwise expressly stated on a particular page of the Law Offices’ website, retainer agreement, or engagement letter, Law Offices intends to act as primary counsel in representing clients who retain the Attorney.

Photographs. The photographs on this website may not be of actual lawyer(s), employees and/or clients of the Law Offices unless otherwise noted. The cost of this website is paid for by the Law Offices and not by any other lawyer or firm.

No Guarantee of Results. Some of the case summaries, reports of past results and individual lawyer biographies on this website describe past matters handled for clients of the Law Offices. These descriptions are meant only to provide information to the public about the activities and experience of our lawyer(s). They are not intended as a guarantee that the same or similar results can be obtained in every matter undertaken by our lawyer(s). You must not assume that a similar result can be obtained in a legal matter of interest to you. The outcome of a particular matter can depend on a variety of factors—including the specific factual and legal circumstances, the ability of opposing counsel, and, often, unexpected developments beyond the control of any client or lawyer.
No Claim of Expertise or Board Certification. This website lists areas in which lawyer(s) of the Law Offices practice. In so doing, no Law Offices’ lawyer makes a claim of “expertise,” “specialization” or “board certification.” Any lawyer(s) of the Law Offices who are properly board certified in a practice area have so indicated in their biographies.

IRS Circular 230 Notice. In accordance with Internal Revenue Service requirements, this is to inform you that any information on this website that could be construed as United States tax advice is not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed on this website. See IRS Circular 230.

No Tax Advice. This website is not intended to provide any tax advice. Furthermore Law Offices does not provide tax advice to any client and an services of accountant(s) should be utilized regarding any tax questions.

Links to Third Party Websites. As a convenience, this website provides links to various third-party websites. Such linked websites are not under the control of the Law Offices, and the Law Offices assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the contents of such websites.

Authorized Practice of Law. The jurisdictions in which each of the Law Offices’ lawyer(s) are licensed to practice are Maryland and the District of Columbia. The ability of any Law Offices’ lawyer to engage in any activities for a client outside of that lawyer’s state(s) of licensure is subject to state statutes, professional standards and court rules. The Law Offices does not seek, and this website is not intended to solicit, legal engagements in jurisdictions outside of our lawyer(s)’ states of licensure when such engagements would constitute the unauthorized practice of law in any jurisdiction. In certain occasions the Law Offices may engage and/or employ of-counsel in other jurisdictions should it be necessary to represent the client outside of Maryland and the Washington, DC.

Responsible Lawyer. The Law Offices lawyer responsible for the content of this website is Afshin Shane Kamkari, Esq.

Bona Fide Office. The Law Offices operates a bona fide office at 10411 Motor City Drive, Bethesda, MD 20817.
Copyright. Copyright © by Kamkari Law Offices. All rights reserved. You may download and print out any part of this website for your own personal, non-commercial use. Any other reproduction or retransmission of the contents of this website without our prior written consent is prohibited.