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Joint custody may be hard to avoid in Maryland

Depending on the circumstances in which people find themselves, it may be really good news or really bad news that some Maryland judges are strongly favoring joint custody.

As some Marylanders might know already, "joint custody" can mean a number of different things and may refer only to joint decision-making between two parents who have separated. However, some Howard County child custody lawyers and other child custody lawyers in Maryland see a trend in this state's trial courts that favor an actual 50-50 split of the physical custody of a couple's children. Effectively, this means the child spends a roughly equal amount of time with each parent.

In one recent case on point, a Maryland judge set up a split custody arrangement between a divorcing couple over the objections of the mother. The mother of the child claimed that the father's behavior had been threatening and that he had left her fearing for both her security and that of the parties' child. However, she previously failed to convince a judge that she was entitled to a protective order on account of her estranged husband's behavior.

In light of these facts, the court concluded that the best interest of the child lay in giving the child as much time as possible with each parent. While the court recognized that this couple had experienced considerable tension in their relationship, the court found that the parents had been able to get along with respect to the upbringing of the child.

When the mother appealed this decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the family court's reasoning.

Whether this case is good news or bad news really depends on the circumstances people face. On the one hand, joint custody gives people, especially fathers, opportunities to have relationships with their children that may have been unavailable in previous years. On the other hand, joint custody is certainly not for everyone and may even be detrimental in cases involving abuse, neglect or other similar issues.

Source: Carroll County Times, "Legal Matters: Child custody case offers insight on the motive of judges," Donna Engle, April 28, 2013

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