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  • By: Robert Greenberg, Esq.
  • Published: November 1, 2021
Child Custody – The “Best Interests Of The Child” Standard

In Maryland, judges are frequently tasked with making child custody determinations. It’s often said to be one of the hardest jobs tasked to a judge because of how important their decision is to the parents and children involved. In rendering their decision, judges are guided by the standard of the “best interests of the child.”

Each case presents different facts and circumstances which the court must consider in making a custody determination. However, there are certain factors which Maryland law provides that the court must consider in determining the best interests of the child. These factors were originally set forth in the case of Montgomery County v. Sanders and include the following:

  1. Fitness of the parents;
  2. Character and reputation of the parents;
  3. Desire of the natural parents and agreements between the parties;
  4. Potentiality of maintaining natural family relations;
  5. Preference of the child;
  6. Material opportunities affecting the future life of the child;
  7. Age, health and sex of the child;
  8. Residences of the parents and opportunities for visitation;
  9. Length of separation from the natural parents; and
  10. Any prior abandonment or surrender of custody.

Subsequently, in the case of Taylor v. Taylor, Maryland’s highest court – the Court of Appeals of Maryland – set forth additional factors which courts are to consider in awarding joint custody. These factors include:

  1. Capacity of the parents to communicate and to reach shared decisions regarding the child’s welfare;
  2. Willingness of parents to share custody;
  3. Fitness of parents;
  4. Relationship established between the child and each parent;
  5. Preference of the child;
  6. Potential disruption of the child’s school and social life;
  7. Geographic proximity of the parents’ homes;
  8. Demands of the parents’ employment;
  9. Age and number of children;
  10. Sincerity of each parent’s request;
  11. Financial status of the parents;
  12. Impact on state or federal assistance;
  13. Benefit to the parents; and
  14. Other factors which the court deems appropriate.

Taken together, the factors set forth in the Sanders and Taylor cases often overlap and supplement one another. Indeed, in many cases, the court may find that certain factors do not apply or carry much weight (i.e. the preference of the child if the child is an infant), while other factors are particularly relevant and convincing. As the Taylor Court aptly summarized, “the best interest of the child is therefore not considered as one of many factors, but as the objective to which virtually all other factors speak.” Taylor, 306 Md. 290, 303, 508 A.2d 964, 970 (1986).

Custody cases involve many considerations and have consequences that will shape the lives of the parents and child involved. The law firm of Greenberg Legal Group LLC is here to guide you through that process. Contact our office at (410) 650-4242 to learn more about how we can help you.

Robert Greenberg Esq.

Robert Greenberg is an experienced family law and civil
litigator serving clients across the State of Maryland.
Contact Us - (410) 650-4242

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