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Custody: At What Age Can the Child Choose

Custody: At What Age Can the Child Choose

Child custody cases can be mentally and emotionally challenging. Unfortunately, statistics show that more than 1 million children experience familial separation annually as a result of divorce.

In Maryland, we see many disputes arise between two parents who are unable to agree on where their children will live after their divorce. If you find yourself dealing with this type of situation, seeking help from our family law attorneys in Maryland can help ensure you achieve a child custody agreement that is in the best interest of you and your children.

How is Child Custody Determined in Maryland?

In Maryland, family law courts are responsible for allocating parenting time. This process involves determining which parent the children will primarily live with.

There are generally two separate categories of custody that are considered. These include physical custody and legal custody. A physical custody order is a designation made by the court that specifies which parent the child or children will live with. Alternatively, legal custody provides one or both parents with the ability to make important decisions regarding their child. This includes educational decisions, medical choices, and more.

Several factors are considered by the judge making the order for custody. These include:

  • The home environment of each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide and their employment situation
  • The aptitude for parenting of each parent
  • The willingness of each parent to share custody
  • The relationship that each parent has with their child
  • The number of children in the family and their ages
  • The well-being of the child, their age, and gender

The courts will weigh these factors to determine whether one parent is more likely to provide continual and uninterrupted visitation and communication between the child and the other parent. They will also determine whether one parent is better positioned to provide for the child.

At What Age Do Maryland Courts Consider the Child’s Preference?

In Maryland, family law courts will generally consider the child’s preferences once they reach the age of 16. At the age of 16, children have the right to petition to modify the current custody arrangement.

At this point, the family law court will also consider all of the aforementioned factors to come to a final decision regarding where the child would live. However, it is important to understand that by the time a child reaches the age of 16, they are permitted to choose where they prefer to live. If the court believes that the changing of the custody order is in the child’s best interest based on their preference and other factors, they may modify the order.

In addition to the child’s preference, the court will also heavily consider the financial situation of each parent and the parent’s ability to care for the child. Having a team of Maryland child custody attorneys to help with your case can provide you with the best chance of obtaining custody of your child based on their preference.

Is The Child’s Preference Considered if They Are Under 16?

If the child has not yet reached the age of 16, there is still a chance that the court may consider their preference. However, considering the child’s preference is generally determined on a case-by-case basis. In these situations, the judge will consider the child’s age, level of maturity, and other factors when determining if a modification is preferred.

In many cases, courts tend to be reluctant to consider the preference of the child as they believe that they may not be emotionally equipped to deal with some of the pressures that may be placed on them should they choose who they want to live with at this time.

Our family law attorneys in Maryland understand how difficult this can be for you and your child, and we will help you navigate the legal process to make it as stress-free as possible.

Get Help From Our Maryland Child Custody Attorneys

Dealing with a complex child custody case can be extremely challenging. However, it is important that you have a dependable team of Maryland child custody attorneys by your side to help you protect your rights. Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet stands out as a leader in Maryland and Washington D.C.

Our commitment to our clients and singular focus on family law results in efficient representation and successful outcomes. Trust your family law matters with our esteemed practice for dedicated and skilled representation in achieving your goals. Schedule a case evaluation today with our family law attorneys in Maryland to ensure your rights are protected.

Contact us today to schedule a confidential family law case evaluation.


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