The Importance of the ‘Best Interest of the Child’ in Maryland Child Custody Cases

A recent child custody case ruling made by the Court of Special Appeals offers parents in custody disputes several very important pieces of information. One, the ruling explains many of the legal standards that judges use to resolve custody disputes. Two, as the court stated, in “custody disputes, the ‘overarching consideration’ is the best interest of the child.” This, of course, is as it should be. When it comes to advocating for your child and your relationship with that child in a legal custody matter, be sure you are protecting that relationship by securing legal representation from a knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney.

That recent case involved the custody of a girl named K.T. From the time that K.T. was born until she was almost 9, her parents lived together with her in Prince George’s County. In 2016, however, a fight between the mother and the daughter escalated to an altercation between the two parents and ended with the mother receiving a protective order and the father being ordered to leave the home. Eventually, the courts decided that the parents should, on a temporary basis, share joint legal custody and have equal physical custody on a week-on-week-off basis.

The court assigned a custody evaluator to the case. The evaluator concluded that both parents were fit, that both homes were appropriate for custody and visitation, and that both parents communicated with each other effectively in matters regarding K.T. The father was open to a 50-50 custody arrangement; the mother less so. Based on the evaluator’s evaluation and other evidence, the trial court ordered that the parents share joint legal custody and share physical custody on a 50-50 basis. The mother appealed, but the appeals court upheld what the trial court ordered.

In a case where a temporary custody arrangement is in place, the success or failure of that arrangement may be strong evidence of what is, or is not, in the best interest of the child. If the temporary arrangement is something that the court believes is working well and is effective in meeting the needs of the child, then that history may be enough to persuade the judge that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the child.

All of that information is the groundwork for a very important reminder, which is the absolute importance of taking each step in the custody determination process very seriously. Even a temporary custody ruling may ultimately have a very powerful impact in the long run, as a judge may later consider evidence of the child’s success under the temporary arrangement as a valid basis for continuing that arrangement indefinitely.

In other words, don’t take any hearing lightly. Be prepared to do what is necessary for the best interest of your family at every step in the process. One of those things you should to in order to be prepared is making sure you have the legal representation you need. Skilled Maryland family law attorney Anthony A. Fatemi is here to help, having represented both mothers and fathers in Maryland for many years as they to work toward positive solutions. To find out how we can help you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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