As a parent, many of your personal decisions will focus on what you think is best for your children and your relationship with them. From the jobs that you choose to work to the neighborhood where you live, many aspects of your life will be a reflection of your children’s needs rather than your personal preferences.
Some parents will make the difficult decision to remain in an unhappy marriage simply because they worry that divorce will result in them losing custody. There are people who will claim to anyone who will listen that the courts unfairly deprived them of time with their children.
Especially if your spouse has been the primary caregiver and you are the main wage-earner for the family, you might worry that a judge will give your spouse full access to the children, while you only get to see them occasionally on the weekends. Is losing custody a realistic concern for the average parent considering divorce in Maryland?
Sole custody is not the typical outcome
While you might think that your spouse’s relationship with the children will give them a strong claim for school custody, a family law judge would likely be skeptical about granting one parent sole custody when the other also wants to spend time with the children.
Maryland’s laws require that judges make custody choices based on the best interests of the children. For many couples, shared custody will clearly be the best outcome for their children when they divorce. Though you may not be in a position to take 50% of the parenting time, a judge will typically do their best to keep you actively involved in the children’s lives.
When is sole custody possible?
There are only a small number of situations in which a judge would agree with one parent’s claim that sole custody is the best option for the children. In a litigated custody scenario, a judge will typically only grant a parent sole custody when there is compelling evidence that the other parent might put the children in harm’s way.
A history of abuse or neglect, as well as certain health conditions, like a substance abuse disorder, might impact your custody rights. Claims from your spouse not backed up by any kind of documentation or evidence are unlikely to sway the courts when it comes to an attempt to deprive you of time with the children and other parental rights.
When you understand that losing custody would be unlikely in a Maryland divorce, you may feel more comfortable responding to your spouse’s filing or moving forward with a divorce because you are unhappy in your marriage. Talking with the lawyer about your custody concerns and other family law worries may help you prepare for negotiating or court.