When deciding custody of children, the judge who hears your case is guided by "the best interest" of your child. In fact, the best interest of your child is the ultimate issue to which all other considerations point. In reaching its decision as to what custodial arrangement is in the best interest of your child, the Court will consider the following facts as identified in Montgomery County v. Sanders, 38 Md. App. 406, 381 A.2d 1154 (1978):
1. Fitness of parents
2. Character and reputation of parties
3. Desire of natural parents & agreements between parties
4. Potential for maintaining natural family relations
5. Preference of child
6. Material opportunities affecting the future life of child(ren)
7. Age, health & sex of child
8. Residences of parents & opportunity for visitation
9. Length of separation from the natural parents
10. Prior voluntary abandonment or surrender
In the case of a modification of an existing Custody Order, the Court also considers whether the child is doing well in the present custodial environment. In fact, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has stated that, "Basically, if a child is doing well in the custodial environment, the custody will not ordinarily be changed." Levitt v. Levitt, 79 Md. App. 394 (1989). The court recognizes a child's need for continuity and stability and when all goes well, stability and not change is in the child's best interest.
Custody cases are can be difficult and emotionally draining for a parent. If you have a custody or visitation case, you should contact an experienced family law attorney. Give us a call to schedule a consultation about your case. We'd be happy to be of assistance to you.