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Factors used to determine if joint child custody is viable

In many Maryland divorce cases that involve children, one parent typically has sole custody with the other parent receiving visitation rights. However, in some instances, both parents want to share custody of the children. While the courts typically look at the best interests of the child when deciding on child custody cases, communication is also a key factor when it comes to joint custody. Both parents must be able to amicably make decisions that affect the care and upbringing of their children. Read on to learn more about the other factors used to decide if joint custody is a viable option.

Besides healthy communication, the court will consider the relationship between the child and each parent. Does the child favor one over the other? Plus, both parents must be of sound mind and body. For example, if one parent has anger management issues or suffers from depression, then he or she is not a good fit to care for children on a regular basis. Also, in order for joint custody to work, the parents need to live in close proximity to each other. It's not fair to shuttle children hours away to see the other parent several times a week. Plus, when parents live far away, this can cause disruption to a child's school and personal lives.

Another thing to consider is both parents' financial situation. Can both afford to provide for the children? Also, what does each parent's job entail? If a parent regularly travels for business, how can he or she be an effective co-parent?

While it's admirable when both parents want to continue being involved in their children's lives even after a divorce, the situation needs to work out for all involved. If the children were primarily raised by one parent during the marriage, then it should ideally stay that way after a divorce. Children face enough stress when their parents divorce and their lives should not be disrupted even more due to a child custody decision.

Source: Maryland Commission for Women, "Legal Rights in Marriage and Divorce in Maryland," accessed Feb. 15, 2015

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