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When parents separate they will need to deal with the custody of their children. This is so both when the parents are married and when they are not. It can also apply when the parents never lived together. Simply put, decisions need to be made concerning where the children are at any given time, who is responsible for providing their care and how important decisions are to be made about the children. When the parents cannot decide this themselves, they can benefit from the help of a Maryland family attorney, and possibly the court.
The legal standard applied to all custody cases is the "best interest of the child". In other words, the only thing that matters in custody matters is what will be best for the child. Of course the parents’ wishes and input is important, and children are not happy when their parents do not feel that their concerns have been heard and considered. It is the goal of the attorneys at Lustig & Gudis to make sure that your thoughts and concerns about the custody of your children are heard, both by your children’s other parent and by the court. We believe that the best interests of children are not well served if you are not satisfied that you were heard on the matter. This is the primary concern of your Maryland family lawyer at Lustig & Gudis.
There are two types of custody. The first involves who will be responsible for your children’s physical well being and who will be making routine daily decisions about your children. This is the category of custody that deals with exactly where your children will live. This category of custody is referred to as "residential custody".
There are numerous ways parents can work out the residential custody for their children. It is dependent on the personalities of the parents and the children, the geographical distance between the parents’ homes, the age of the children and the routine that has been established by the parents for their children prior to the issue of residential custody being decided. Anything else that the parents think is important can also be considered.
A residential custody schedule can be traditional, where one parent is the "primary residential parent", meaning that the children live primarily with that parent. In this case, the other parent would have access to the children on weekends and for dinners during the week. The most traditional schedule involves visitation, or what we now call "access", to occur on alternate weekends and on one evening each week for dinner. The access schedule does not have to follow this traditional model and can be designed to take the parents’ schedules in mind as well as to consider the schedules of the children so that homework can be done and extracurricular activities or medical needs can be accommodated.
Residential custody schedules can also provide for more time with both parents. This is referred to as "joint residential custody". Although many people believe that joint residential custody means that the children spend equal halves of their time at the home of each parent (often described as "50-50") the residential schedule can be as individualized as each family is unique. It is the job of your family law attorney to help work out the best schedule for your family.