Contested Child Custody Checklist
In contested child custody cases, Maryland courts apply the best interests standard. Montgomery County v. Sanders, 38 Md. App. 406, 381 A.2d 1154 (1977). This means the judge’s best guess as to where the child will be better off in the future. However, there are certain factors the judge must consider in deciding custody disputes. These are:
- Fitness of a parent to have custody.
- Character and reputation of the parties.
- Desire of the parents to have custody and any agreements between them.
- potential for maintaining natural family relations.
- Preferences of the children.
- Material opportunities for the child.
- Age, health, and sex of the child.
- Residences of the parents and the opportunity for visitations.
- The time the parties have been separated.
- Whether there was a voluntarily abandonment of the child.
Joint Child Custody Checklist
Taylor v. Taylor, 306 Md. App. 290, 508 A2d 964 (1986) sets forth factors the court must consider when a party seeks joint custody. They are:
- The parties’ capacity to agree on parenting
- The parties’ willingness to share custody. The parties’ fitness to have custody.
- The child’s relationship established with each parent.
- The child’s preference.
- Disruption to the child’s social and school life.
- How far apart the parents live.
- Demands of the parent’s jobs.
- The age and number of children.
- The sincerity of the parties’ request for custody.
- Financial status.
- Impact on any government benefits.
- Benefit to the parties.
- Anything else, including the Sanders factors above.