New laws are focusing on joint custody when a mother and father divorce or separate. However, the laws have always pushed toward the best interest of the child or children when determining custody in a separation or a divorce. No laws in Maryland or elsewhere in this nation dictate that the mother should be given a priority with regards to custody of a minor child.
However, according to data from the U.S. Census, fathers only have custody in a small percentage of cases. In fact, more than 80 percent of child custody cases are awarded to the mother. This suggests that preference is given to mothers even though the laws do not specifically state so.
Most courts make decisions about child custody based on the best interest of the child or children. However, states do not generally collect data about those awards, so there is no way to track the progress of the system. One study found that the absence of the father can create sociological, emotional and physical challenges for children of divorce.
Spousal and child support awards were originally implemented because stay-at-home mothers did not have resources to support themselves and their children. However, as more moms move into the workforce and more dads help to carry out the domestic duties of the home, it is not a given that the mother is the best person to have custody of the child. In some instances, stay-at-home dads can receive child support. Maryland residents who are considering a separation or a divorce may wish to consult with an attorney who can help to determine the best interest of the child or children so that both parties can move on in the best circumstances.
Source: silive.com, "Child custody? Favor shared parenting in divorces", Leslie Loftis, May 14, 2015