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How Does Child Custody Work?

Child custody cases can be filled with emotional turmoil. While both parents are the most qualified to make decisions that are best for their children, sometimes they need outside help in determining child custody. Sometimes parents seek the court’s help to make decisions for their children that are grounded in the analysis. But before you seek the court’s help, take a look at how child custody works.

shutterstock 190783718 - How Does Child Custody Work?

Do You Have To Go Through the Courts?

Sometimes co-parents can arrange a child custody agreement outside of court. Parents can collaborate and develop a parenting plan. Sometimes parents opt to develop a parenting plan without the help of attorneys, but agreements without any legal backing are not enforceable if something goes wrong. That’s why, if you and your co-parent decide to resolve things outside of court, it’s always recommended to hire an experienced family attorney to file your agreement and make it legally binding. 

Legal Child Custody vs Physical Child Custody

There are two main types of custody: legal and physical. In Maryland, legal custody means that a parent has the authority to make decisions involving the child’s health, education, religion, and all other important matters that are important to the child’s overall health, safety, and development. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. This parent is responsible for providing for the child on a day-to-day basis and makes the daily decisions for the child’s needs. 

Maryland courts try to award shared physical and joint legal custody whenever possible. However, sometimes this option is not available if parents are unable to co-parent collaboratively. It’s possible that one parent is awarded sole physical custody and both parents have joint legal custody. The outcome of every case varies depending on different factors. 


There are multiple factors that can determine which parent, or both, is awarded custody of the child. In general, the courts will base their decision on an analysis of the child’s stability, safety, and emotional well-being. Some of the things they will take into consideration are: 

  • The fitness of each parent to be a primary or shared caretaker of the children
  • Character and reputation evidence presented by each parent
  • Physical and emotional stability of either parent
  • Evidence pertaining to abuse, neglect, or violence

ZM Law Group Can Help

If you have a child custody case, Zhanna A. Maydanich wants to help. As an experienced child custody lawyer, she knows how child custody works in Maryland and can help you get the best results. At ZM Law Group, we work with you to analyze and identify your needs and plans for your children to generate strong support for your case. 

Have more questions? Contact us today to learn more. 

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