Why sole custody is rarely given

Custody battles are some of the more complex and difficult cases in court. The courts put great value in a child’s opportunity to live and learn from each parent — even after a divorce.

There are only a few situations that may warrant sole custody in Maryland.

What does sole custody mean for each parent?

There are two types of sole custody a parent could seek. One is sole physical custody, which allows one parent — the custodial parent — the right to live with the child. The child could not reside with the non-custodial parent, except for during reasonable visitation times that are established within a court-approved schedule.

Sole legal custody allows only the custodial parent to make legal choices for the child, such as decisions regarding medical or emotional health care, religious development and education. The noncustodial parent would retain no right to dispute these decisions.

What conditions allow sole custody?

When the court makes decisions about how custody will be granted, they take the child’s best interests into mind first. The parent-child relationship is usually paramount over other relatives. Taking away a parent’s right to that relationship is not easily done.

Sole custody is often only granted if one parent is deemed an unfit parent, meaning he or she is unable to care for the child’s needs responsibly. Circumstances that may be grounds to find a parent unfit in Maryland include drug or alcohol dependency and/or child or domestic abuse.

However, despite these issues, a parent may still be entitled to supervised visitation with the child.

Is there an alternative way to get sole custody?

The only other way a parent might gain sole custody is if the mother chooses not to recognize the father on the child’s birth certificate. However, the mother will not be able to collect child support payments from the father. The father may also choose to prove his paternity of the child to secure his rights as a parent at any time.

I still have custody concerns

If you are concerned about how custody will be granted and what type of parenting plan is best, talk to a Family Law lawyer for help. An attorney can draw on experience from past cases and legal expertise to help you find a solution that’s best for you and your child.