When an order is awarded by a Maryland court involving legal and physical custody, the parent awarded the order is granted certain legal rights. In addition to the right of residency, they are given the authority to make important decisions about matters such as the child's education and upbringing. However, there are situations where parents may choose not to pursue a custody order.
Some divorcing couples maintain a friendly relationship, and they may prefer to make informal arrangements regarding their children's living arrangements and upbringing. While other parents fear that initiating child custody proceedings could create a hostile atmosphere that may damage the child emotionally or lead to a legal ruling not to their liking. When a parent files for a custody order, the child's other parent could claim that the child would be better served if they were awarded custody. If this happens, the matter will be taken out of the parents hands and decided by a family court judge.
Some parents pursue a custody order because they believe that the award of child support payments is dependent on such an order being in place. However, even though child custody and child support are both matters dealing with what is in the best interests of a child, decisions about them are made independently. The granting of a custody order does not mean that child support payments will automatically be required, and child support may be ordered even when no custody order is in place.
While seeking a custody order may provide valuable legal rights, it also involves dealing with the element of uncertainty common to all court proceedings. An experienced family law attorney can advise parents about the steps involved in pursuing a custody order and help them weigh the advantages of taking this path against the possible consequences.
Source: Womens' Law, "Custody", November 11, 2014