How to Apply for Sole Custody in Baltimore, Maryland

By Elizabeth Rayne

In some cases, sole legal custody or sole physical custody is in the best interests of a child. For a parent wishing to establish or modify custody in Baltimore, Maryland, the first step involves communicating to the court the specific reasons for the proposed arrangement. The other parent must then be made aware of the proceedings, and the parties can attempt to reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the court will make a determination based on what the judge believes is in the child's best interest.

Types of Custody

Maryland law distinguishes between legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent makes major long-term decisions for the child, such as issues surrounding education or health care. Conversely, physical custody refers to where the child lives, and the physical care and supervision of the child. When one parent has both legal and physical custody, that parent has sole custody. However, the court may also award shared custody where both parents have physical and legal custody, or one parent may have sole physical custody while legal custody is shared, or vice versa.

Applying for Custody

If there is no custody order in place, you will need to file a Complaint for Custody at the Circuit Court of Baltimore City or Circuit Court of Baltimore County. Either parent may file for sole custody, either as part of the divorce process or separate from a divorce action. On the complaint, you must indicate you are seeking sole custody and note why it is in the best interest of your child. Once you file your complaint with the court, you must serve the other parent with summons and the complaint.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Custody Disputes

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement about custody, they may seek help from a mediator. Mediation is confidential and serves to help people reach a consensus that everyone finds fair. In some cases, the court may order the parents to go to mediation. If you still cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide the custody situation that is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider many factors when awarding custody, such as which parent is already serving as the primary caregiver, character and fitness of the parents, and in some cases, the wishes of the child.

Modification

If a custody order is already in place and you want to obtain sole custody, you must file a petition or motion to modify the existing custody order. To modify custody, you must fill out the petition or motion, with an explanation of how you want custody to change and reasons for the modification. You will only be awarded a modification if you can show there was a substantial change in circumstances since the original order and how it would be in the best interest of the child for you to have sole custody. If you reached an agreement with the other parent about modification, you may include this with the motion. You must serve the other parent with the motion for modification.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Reverse a Sole Custody Order in Missouri

References

Resources

Related articles

How to Obtain Child Custody in New Mexico

If you're divorcing your child's other parent, you not only have to prepare to live separate lives, but you must also figure out how to parent from two separate homes. When you file for divorce in New Mexico, you and your spouse must resolve any and all custody issues before the divorce can be finalized. If you are unable to reach an agreement on your own, the court will step in and make the decision for you, choosing a custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child.

How to File for Child Custody in Ohio

In child custody proceedings in Ohio, parents must demonstrate their proposed custody arrangement is in their child's best interests. If you want to seek custody of your child, you must show that you can provide a stable, healthy, loving environment for your child. Except in extreme cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, judges almost always grant visitation to the noncustodial parent.

How to Obtain Joint Custody in California

In California, joint custody means joint physical or joint legal custody. Joint legal custody is when both parents have an equal right to make major decisions concerning the child, such as decisions about their child's medical care, what school he will attend and religion he will follow. Joint physical custody is when the child lives with both parents, with California law determining the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Unlike some other states, California does not have a preference for joint custody, which means that California does not automatically presume that joint custody is the best decision for the child.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Filing for Physical Custody in Virginia

Both parents and Virginia courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interests of the child in a divorce ...

How to Get Full Custody in the State of Alabama

A fight over child custody is often immensely stressful for both parents and children. Alabama recognizes two types of ...

How to Get Child Custody If a Parent Refuses to Sign the Papers

Because child custody disputes can be contentious and stressful, family courts encourage parents to settle their ...

How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Texas

If you cannot agree on custody terms with your child's other parent and you desire full custody of your child, you will ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED