Joint legal custody or shared custody has long been favored by the Maryland courts.  However, the courts do not automatically grant this status.  Instead, the court is obligated by statue and precedent to determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the minor child or whether the parents are capable of effectively sharing such custody.

Legal Custody Defined

Custody includes both legal and physical custody.  Legal custody involves the right and obligation to make important decisions about the child concerning issues such as education, religious training, discipline, medical care, and other significant matters affecting the child’s welfare.

Joint Legal Custody Defined

In a joint legal custody situation, both parents have an equal right to make legal custody decisions.

Physical Custody Defined

Physical custody means the right and obligation to physically care for a child.  The parent who has physical custody makes the day-to-day decisions required during the time the child actually spends with the parent.

Joint or Shared Physical Custody Defined

Although both parents share physical custody of a child; the child spends part of the year living with each parent. Shared physical custody need not be divided exactly on a 50/50 basis