Custody Presumptions

I am often asked if the courts have a bias in favor of mothers or fathers in a custody case. Sometimes whether a particular Judge has a bias in favor of mothers or fathers. Usually they say, “I know that Maryland is against dads, but I want to fight for custody.”

The law is clear: there is no preference for either parent. The standard is the best interests of the child.

which_houseIn my experience, the courts have a bias in favor of stability. Let me explain what I mean. After a couple breaks up, the child ends up living with one of the parents. For the purpose of my example, we’ll say that the child ends up living with mom. Six months go by before the couple files for custody. Another nine months go by before the case is heard by a Judge. During this entire time, the child has been living with mom and mom has been doing a fine job of caring for the child. Dad has been seeing the child on a semi-regular basis. The Judge is very likely to award primary custody to mom. Not because the court favors mom, but because mom is stable with a successful fifteen month track record.

Be careful what temporary custody arrangement you work out after a separation, because it has a way of setting precedent.