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Maryland Child Custody Laws

Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions regarding their child moving forward (referred to as "legal custody") and how they will share time with their child (referred to as "parenting time," "timesharing," or "physical custody," depending on the state). If parents are unable to come to an agreement, courts will decide the best course of action based on state child custody laws.

All states, except Massachusetts, including Maryland, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). In Maryland, joint custody is an option for separated parents, and the state recognizes grandparents' visitation rights. Maryland does not consider the wishes of the child in custody matters, although a child of at least 16 years old may petition the court for a change of custody.

Here is a brief summary of child custody laws in Maryland.

Child Custody Statutes in Maryland: At a Glance

Learn more about Maryland's child custody laws in the chart below. You can also visit FindLaw's Child Custody section for more articles and resources on this topic.

Code Section

§ 5-203 et seq. of the Maryland Code

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, § 5-203(d)(2)

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 9-102 (abrogated by Kosho v. Haining, 398 Md. 404 (M.D. 2007, where the court held that the grandparent visitation statute would contain a rebuttable presumption favoring parental decisions concerning visitation to be in the child's best interest; grandparents petition for visitation must show prima facie evidence of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances demonstrating the current or future detriment of the child)

Child's Own Wishes Considered?

No; § 9-103, but a child 16 years old may petition for a change of custody

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Maryland Custody Hearings

In many cases, parents are unable to agree on a custody arrangement on their own, and they may have to attend a custody hearing in court to decide on any contested custody issues. In nearly every case, the main concern in creating a custody arrangement will be the child's best interests. Family courts in Maryland are permitted to consider any factor that may be relevant to the child's best interests, giving more influence to those factors that can affect your child's safety and well-being.

Many of the best interest factors will focus on the child, like his or her relationship with any siblings and the need for consistency and continuity in his or her education, community, and family life. Other factors may focus on the parents, like which is more likely to take care of the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational, and special needs of the child, or which is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child.

Get Legal Help with Child Custody

Trying to sort out child custody matters at the end of a relationship can be emotionally and legally difficult. If you would like legal assistance with a child custody matter, you can contact an Maryland family law attorney.

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