Modern families in Maryland come in all different shapes and sizes. Not only are many parents not married, but they are also not living together.
However, it is imperative for both sides to understand their child custody rights and ensure they provide care and support for their children. In Maryland, child custody for unmarried parents is nearly identical to the law for married parents. The one important difference is that the husband is presumed to be the father of the child.
In a Maryland child custody case, either the mother or the father can pursue custody of their children. A putative father might need to establish paternity before he can pursue custody and visitation rights.
The following are ways paternity can be established in Maryland:
- Filling out and submitting an Affidavit of Parentage
- Declared himself – in writing or orally – to be the child’s father
- Taking a genetic test pursuant to a court order
Once paternity is established, the parents have the right to seek any form of access he or she deems appropriate, and the court will decide the access schedules for both parents.
The following are some, but not all of the factors that help a court determine a “child’s best interests” and that the judge will consider when determining custody:
- The age, gender, and health of the child
- The child’s preference (if he/she is old enough)
- Mental and physical fitness of each parent
- The distance between each parent’s home
- Any abandonment of the child
- How the custody arrangement maintains natural family relationships
- Any history of domestic abuse, violence, alcoholism, or addiction
- The willingness of each parent to provide care and shelter for the child
Family court judges are not required to grant joint custody, but frequently will do so, absent some evidence that doing so would not be in the child’s best interest. In some situations, one parent is granted more parenting time or more decision-making responsibilities. However, the other parent maintains his or her rights as a parent.
If you are interested in seeking child custody or obtaining sole custody in Queen Anne’s County, contact Matthew Penick Law today at (410) 618-0863 for a free initial consultation. Serving clients facing family law matters since 2009.