Child Custody in Maryland

Become Familiar with Maryland Child Custody Laws Before Your Case Goes to Court

Mom holding young daughter
Know the child custody laws in Maryland before you file. Photo © Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Child custody in Maryland is determined based on what is known as the 'best interests of the child' standard. Learn what this means, along with other criteria used to determine child custody in Maryland.

Maryland Child Custody

Parents who wish to file for child custody in Maryland should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state. Even if you are already working with an experienced child custody lawyer, educating yourself about Maryland's child custody laws will help you be your own best advocate, regardless of whether you are seeking full or shared custody.

Best Interests of the Child

In the state of Maryland, child custody is based on a concept known as the best interests of the child. Essentially, this means that the court seeks to put the child's needs first, above the interests and desires of the parents. In general, you can expect the judge to carefully consider the following factors in determining your child's best interests:

  • The child's wishes, depending on his or her age and mental capacity (courts generally wait until a chlid reaches age 12 or older before ask for his or her opinion)
  • Any history of abuse or neglect by either parent
  • The child's current relationship with each parent
  • The proximity between the parents' residences
  • Each parent's ability to encourage and foster an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Each parent's willingness to make decisions together when it comes to the child's wellbeing

Child Custody Petition by a Child

In the state of Maryland, the courts generally hold off on factoring the child's wishes into the child custody determination until the child is at least 12 years old.

In addition, the state of Maryland also allows older teens to initiate a change of custody in court. This is usually reserved for teens 16 years of age and older. In such cases, the court will either:

  • Respond to the request by holding a child custody hearing, or
  • Amend an existing order or decree in honor of the child's request

    Military Parents and Child Custody in Maryland

    In Maryland, if a custody or visitation request arises as a result of either parent's military deployment, the court will require:

    • The child's other parent to reasonably accommodate the deploying parent's leave schedule
    • The child's other parent to encourage and facilitate opportunities for the child to communicate with the deploying parent by way of the telephone and electronic mail
    • The deploying parent to provide the other parent with the information regarding the leave schedule in a timely fashion

    Relocation and Child Custody in Maryland

    In a Maryland child custody proceeding, the court may require a party to give the court and a co-parent 90 days notice of the intention to relocate either with or without the child. If a party must relocate in less than 90 days, the court will consider:

    • Whether the relocation is necessary due to financial or other pressing circumstances
    • Whether notice is given immediately following the period of time after learning of the relocation

    For more information about child custody in Maryland, speak with a qualified attorney in Maryland or refer to the Maryland Domestic Relations statue.

    Edited by Jennifer Wolf.