Baltimore County Child Custody

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Baltimore County Child Custody Attorney

The results from the 2020 Census revealed just how Baltimore County, Maryland, had grown in recent years. To put it into perspective, the county welcomed over 50,000 new residents between 2010 and 2020. That means more families were established in the region. And truthfully, the need for legal advice and guidance on common family issues, such as child support, grew significantly. That’s one of the more common reasons for hiring a Baltimore County child custody attorney.

What Does a Child Custody Attorney Do?

A child custody attorney helps parents and guardians navigate the complex legal process of establishing custody arrangements for children in a divorce, separation, or other family law matters. Their primary role is to ensure that children’s needs are met during and after a divorce or separation.

What Is the Legal Definition of Child Custody in Maryland?

Maryland laws define child custody as the legal right and responsibility to make decisions regarding a child’s care, control, and maintenance.

Now let’s look at some essential child custody laws you should know in this state.

Under Maryland law, there are different types of custody, as discussed below.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the actual physical care and control of the child. It determines where the child will live and who will make decisions about their daily care, such as their education, medical treatment, and activities.

A parent with physical custody is known as the “custodial parent.” In addition, physical custody is often referred to as “parenting time.”

Legal Custody

Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as their education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing. The parent awarded legal custody is known as the “legal custodian.”

In some cases, one parent may have both physical and legal custody of the child. Alternatively, the parents may share physical custody, with the child spending equal or nearly equal time with each parent. In such an agreement, one parent may have sole legal custody.

Keep in mind that even if a parent does not have physical custody of the child, they may still have the right to spend time with the child. They may also be involved in important decisions about the child’s life, depending on the specific custody arrangement in place.

Joint Custody

Maryland law also provides joint custody arrangements. This means that both parents share decision-making responsibilities for their child(ren). Joint custody is often preferred in Maryland because it allows both parents to have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with the child.

Sole Custody

As the name suggests, sole custody refers to a situation where one parent is solely responsible for making decisions regarding the child’s upbringing and care. Sole custody is only awarded if doing so is in the child’s best interests, such as in cases of abuse or neglect by one parent.

Parenting Plans

In Maryland, parents are required to develop a parenting plan that outlines the responsibilities of each parent and the amount of time each parent will spend with the child. The parenting plan must be approved by the court and is often used to determine child custody arrangements.


Maryland law gives visitation rights to non-custodial parents. The court will determine a visitation schedule that is in the child’s best interests, considering the child’s needs and the non-custodial parent’s schedule.

Modification of Custody Orders

Child custody orders can be modified in Maryland if there has been a significant change in circumstances. This can include changes in the child’s needs, the parent’s circumstances, or the child’s relationship with each parent.

The Child’s Best Interests Come First

The courts will always consider the child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements in Maryland. These factors include but not limited to the following:

  • the child’s relationship with each parent
  • the parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs
  • the child’s preferences (if the child is of sufficient age and maturity); and
  • any history of abuse or neglect.

Given that child custody laws in Maryland can be complex and may change over time, it is always best to consult an experienced child custody attorney for legal advice and guidance tailored to your unique needs.

How Child Custody Works in Baltimore County

Child custody in Baltimore County, Maryland, is governed by the laws of the State of Maryland. As mentioned, the court’s primary consideration in determining custody arrangements is the child’s best interests.

In this county, parents can agree on custody arrangements on their own or with the help of a mediator. Alternatively, the court can make a custody determination after a hearing.

Here’s a general overview of the custody process in Baltimore County, MD:

Filing a Custody Petition

One parent files a custody petition in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. This petition outlines the parent’s custody request and any relevant information about the child and the parents.


In many cases, the court will require the parents to attend mediation before a hearing. Mediation is when a neutral third party helps the parents agree on custody arrangements.

Custody Hearing

A custody hearing will be scheduled if the parents cannot agree through mediation. During the hearing, both parents will present their cases. The court will then listen to testimonies from the involved parties and consider evidence to determine the child’s best interests.

Custody Order

Once the hearing is done, the court will issue a custody order that outlines the custody arrangements for the child. This order may include a schedule for visitations, a plan for decision-making responsibilities, and other relevant information.

Modification of Custody Orders

Custody orders can be modified in Baltimore County if there has been a significant change in circumstances, as discussed earlier. An experienced Baltimore County child custody attorney can help review the unique circumstances of your case and determine whether you have a valid reason to modify the order.

Is Maryland a “Mother State” for Child Custody?

No, Maryland is not considered a “Mother State” for child custody. In the Free State, the court will make a custody determination based on the child’s needs and not the gender of the parents.

What Is a Standard Possession Schedule for Child Custody in Maryland?

There is no one-size-fits-all possession schedule for child custody. Instead, the schedule will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Examples of factors that could influence the child custody schedule include the following:

  • the ages of the children;
  • the distances between the parents; and
  • the work schedules of the parents.

However, the court may use the Maryland Child Custody Guidelines as a reference when determining a standard possession schedule. The guidelines provide a recommended schedule for visitations and holidays that may be used as a starting point for determining a standard possession schedule.

The 50/50 custody schedule is a good example. Here is how it works.

The child spends the first two days of the week with the first parent, the next two days with the other parent, and then the remaining three days with the starting parent. The schedule then switches the following week, starting with the parent who did not start the previous week.

Note that the court can deviate from the recommended schedule in the state guidelines if it determines that it would be in the child’s best interests to do so. The court may also modify the standard possession schedule if a significant change in circumstances affects the child’s needs or the parent’s ability to care for the child.

What Makes a Parent “Unfit” for Child Custody in Maryland?

A parent may be considered “unfit” for child custody if the court determines that the parent’s behavior or circumstances would harm the child. This can include factors such as:

  • a history of abuse or neglect
  • substance abuse
  • a criminal record;
  • or a history of neglecting the child’s needs.

The court will also consider all relevant evidence when making a custody determination, including testimony from witnesses, expert reports, and other relevant information. In addition, the court may consider any history of domestic violence or abuse between the parents.

How Can Someone Lose Child Custody in Maryland?

A parent can lose child custody if the court determines that it is in the child’s best interests to do so. For example, take a situation where the court determines that the parent cannot provide a safe and stable environment for the child or that the parent’s behavior would harm the child.

This also explains why child custody laws are not written in stone; they change from time to time. That said, a parent may lose child custody in Maryland if:

  • they have a history of substance abuse or are unable to provide a safe and stable environment for the child due to substance abuse;
  • they have a history of child abuse or neglect, or if the parent is currently abusive or neglectful towards the child;
  • they have a criminal record related to violence, abuse, or neglect;
  • they interfere with the allocated parenting time;
  • they violate a court order;
  • they neglect the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and medical care; or
  • they fail to provide financial support for the child.

How a Child Custody Attorney From Divorce With a Plan Can Help

At Divorce With a Plan, our child custody attorneys understand how complex this process can be. The laws aside, child custody matters are usually filled with emotions from both sides.

And when that happens, it may be difficult to make the right choices. That is where we come in to provide the legal advice and guidance you need to navigate these laws and make well-thought-of decisions.

Our child custody lawyers can:

  • help you understand the child custody laws in Maryland and how they apply to your unique situation;
  • can represent you in court and make arguments on your behalf to help you obtain the custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests;
  • negotiate a custody agreement with the other parent that is fair and in your child’s best interests;
  • gather and present evidence to the court to support your position on child custody;
  • protect your rights as a parent, and ensure your child’s best interests are considered by the court;
  • help resolve child custody disputes through negotiations or mediation;
  • and so much more.

Need a Baltimore County Child Custody Attorney? We Can Help

At Divorce With a Plan, our team of experienced family lawyers is here to help you fight for the best interests of your children. With years of experience in family law and a commitment to providing personalized, compassionate representation, we’ll work tirelessly to help you reach a fair and just resolution.

Whether you’re seeking sole custody, joint custody, or simply the right to visit your children, our attorneys can help you understand your rights and options. We’ll guide you through the often-complex legal process and work to ensure your voice is heard in and out of court.

So don’t wait any longer. If you’re facing a child custody battle, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation. And to get the most out of your consultation, it is advisable to read through our Divorce With a Plan Checklist. Together, we can set up a plan to protect your family’s future.