For parents, one of the most challenging aspects of getting a divorce is deciding on the child custody agreement. Many times, parents have no difficulty dividing assets, but dividing time and custody of children is another story.
What happens if the child or children want to have a say in whom they would prefer to live with? This too can be taken into consideration by the court. There are many factors involved in the decision process, and the wishes of the children are just one thing the court may consider.
Legal custody versus physical custody
There are two types of custody determined in a divorce: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the rights of decision-making for the child, such as medical care or educational choices. Physical custody, on the other hand, deals with where the child will live.
Many factors are involved in determining where a child will live in a child custody agreement. If the child is 16 years of age or older in Maryland, then they can petition the court for a change of custody. The desires of the child is only one factor taken into consideration, however.
Let’s look at other factors that may be considered:
- Parenting abilities: The ability of each parent to be a good parent. The best interests of the child are always the priority in a custody case — even when that conflicts with the child’s stated preferences.
- Home atmosphere: Each home option is taken into consideration. There is an attempt to determine the best environment for the child when deciding where the child will physically reside.
- Parental problems: A parent’s custody rights can be affected by other problems they may have, including alcoholism, drug addiction, a history of domestic violence and other criminal troubles.
As we can see, the will of the child may be taken into consideration, but it is not the only deciding factor. Multiple issues, including parenting ability and the home environment, also play a role in custody decisions.
Every family situation is unique. Parents can benefit from having legal counsel that is experienced in child custody matters in Maryland.