When to consider shared physical custody in Maryland

Under Maryland law sole physical custody becomes shared custody as the number of over nights spent with the non custodial parent exceeds 35% or 128 per year. The non custodial parent, the one who has less visitation than the primary care giving parent should make sure they have more than 128 overnights of visitation with their child after the date of separation prior to filing for shared custody.  There are two important principles the court takes into consideration when deciding a Maryland Custody Order. One is what kind of living arrangement is in the best interest of the child. The other principal is one of the factors embedded into the best interest of the child list- is maintaining the status quo and to not grant additional visitation to the non custodial parent who has not recently had a significant involvement in their child’s life. That requesting shared custody in a Maryland custody case without already exceeding 35% of the yearly overnights will be very unlikely to be granted absent testimony that questions the custodial parent’s ability to parent, discipline and care for the child. In other words, what kind of informal agreement have the parties been operating under leading up to the custody hearing and has the child been doing well under that arrangement. If yes, then more likely than not, the court will fashion a Maryland custody order according to the present arrangements.

Too many times, parents know about their equal right to the upbringing of their child, but are not aware of the best interest factors a court takes into consideration when deciding Maryland custody. Establishing and maintaining the status quo is an important factor to plan for so that your day in court will truly reflect what is in the best interest of the child, as opposed to being the result of your ignorance of the law. In the event that one parent denies visitation, or flees out of state, consult with your Maryland Child Custody attorney as to what your parental rights are in response.Finally, don’t forget to ask your Maryland custody attorney about a consent order regarding an initial custody order.

About Maryland Family Law
General information and commentary on child custody, support, divorce, separation, Pre Nuptial, Post Nuptial agreements and child visitation

13 Responses to When to consider shared physical custody in Maryland

  1. Concerned Step-mother says:

    My fiance has a son from a previous relationship and we share a child together. He currently has joint physical and legal custody of his son has him 39% of the year. In addition to our day-to-day expenses, he also pays $650 in child support. Currently my fiance is only making $35,000/ year. The mother of his son has voiced to us her plans to take him back to court as soon as we get married to get my income as well. I am making basically the same as my fiance and I am covering the majority of the costs for our 8 month old. I am concerned that she will succeed and I will end up on public assistance in order to care for my own child. Their son is 4 and no longer has all of the excessive needs as my newborn (ie: diapers, formula, frequent doctor visits, etc.). I do not have a problem supporting his son financially and do so on a regular basis, but I do not feel it fair that she be entitled to my income which is the primary financial resource for my son. Is there anything that I can do to protect my finances?

    • While the mother has the right to seek modification of child support based upon a material change in circumstances, your wedding is
      not a material change in circumstances for child support. Your income is not a factor. You are not financially responsible for your soon to
      be step child. Please feel free to contact me to discuss further.

      Thank you for your comments
      Rich Lebovitz

  2. Marlon Miller says:

    I am a single father who recently took my daughter’s mother to court for child support. I am the physical custodian and I have her for 5/7 of the time out of the week. I explained to the court I have my daughter for the entire summer except two weeks, which she spends with her aunt in PA. Her mother and I have a shared agreement in which she sometimes spends some Friday nights with her and she brings her to school on Monday but this is not consistent. I stated to the court this equates to 260 days out of the year. I also pay for everything. Food, clothes, health care, daycare, dental, ESA and school relates activities etc. Her mother is currently on maternity leave and public assistance. She is married and her husband is in Saudi Arabia. She has another child that was taken away from her by the court because of neglect. The court gave a judgment recommendation that I pay her $101 a month from the child support case I filed. I do not understand this judgment as she pays for nothing. I am considering establishing court appointed custody because I’m afraid our relationship is deteriorating and she is starting to use my daughter to try and hurt me. For instance, my daughter spends most weekends with her but we both drive half way on some Fridays to meet and exchange; on Monday she would drive our daughter to school. When she doesn’t want to drive halfway to meet, claiming she’s not a taxi, she threatens not to take her school for the week and enroll her into a Islamic school. What should I do? I feel I need to take legal action to protect the interests of my daughter.

  3. LaTosha says:

    My husband has 2 daughters from a previous marriage. Right now he has joint legal custody but we are looking to get a modification to recieve shared physical custody. Since Nov 2011 we have had the girls 4 overnights one week and the next week 2 over nights the next week. That is not including the vacactions we spend together and when their mother takes vacation and leaves them with us. If we keep the schedule the way it is going for the year we will have the girls for 46% of the time for one year. Is it reasonable to believe that the judge will agree with the modification to get shared physical custody?

    • LaTosha:
      The courts tend to maintain the status quo and since your schedule appears to be over 200 overnights per year, you are clearly
      in the shared custody range. Please call my office for an appointment for a consultation to discuss in person.
      Good luck.

      Rich Lebovitz

  4. Chris says:

    I am currently living with my girlfriend and we have one child together (2). I also have another child with another woman from a previous relationship (8). I haven’t able to see 8 year old in nearly a year and his mother has recently taken me to child support ($520). We have never had any arrangements of visitation in the past but I fear that since she has 5 children that I will not be able to get shared physical or legal custody of the 1 child we share together.

  5. Concerned Father says:

    I am currently seeking a court order for primary physical custody of my 10 month old daughter. Currently, I have been caring for her 5 days a week; I had her for an entire month alone earlier in the year. Will having that in place before court guarantee that the arrangement will stand? Will the mother be able to collect child support with that plan in place?

  6. Oscar Salinas says:

    I just wanted to know if my girlfriend leaves the house with my child am I giving up my parental rights? It has not happen yet but if it does what are my options? I would like to be the primary care taker.

    • I would require additional information to properly answer your question. But assuming that you and the girlfriend are the parents of the child, you should attempt to negotiate a parenting agreement or visitation plan prior to her moving out with the child. Or you should prepare an agreement and file with the court as a consent custody order.
      Please contact me to schedule an appointment to discuss in more detail.


      Rich Lebovitz

  7. Horhe says:

    She has 180+ nights and I have 138 nights a year. Does she have primary physical of the child? She wants to the child to go to the school in her district. But I am thinking since its shard custodi we both decide the school.

  8. Alicia says:

    my soon to be ex-husband and i separated for over a yr now and throught out my pregnancy. I have given birth and our son is 6 months and i am his sole caregiver. He has been with me all this time and his father shows up once a while (10 visits total since our son was born), he gave me $300, and he recently filed for joint custody and i want sole custody because he cant take care of our son. He has lived in 3 different places in yr, has held a job for this long (6months) in his enetire adult life. I on the other hand have a career and put it on hold to raise our son, financially, stable, live in a better home and environment, taken care of all our son’s expenses and everything. Pretty much o have been both mommy n daddy, but now he wants joint custody and our son breastfeed. What are my chances to get sole/physically custody and he gets only visitation. He has no transportation, he not financially secure or responsible, and the only reason he has held the job has this long because he threatened to take our son away from me.

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