If parties to a custody dispute are unable to agree on a custody and visitation agreement, then the issues will end up before a judge of the Circuit Court for a determination after a hearing on the merits. In evaluating the evidence, the trial judge is required to make specific findings of fact that support an ultimate determination of what is in the best interests of the children that are being considered. This “best interests of the children” standard was further developed in the laws of Maryland in the case of Montgomery County v. Sanders, 38 Md. App. 406, 419 (1977), where the court stated that
there is no litmus paper test that provides a quick and relatively easy answer to custody matters. Present methods for determining a child’s best interests are time-consuming, [and] involve a multitude of intangible factors that ofttimes are ambiguous... The fact finder is called upon to evaluate the child’s life chances in each of the homes competing for custody and then to predict with whom the child will be better off in the future.
For the fact finder to be capable of evaluating what is in a child’s best interests, there are a number of factors that must be evaluated in relationship to the child. According to the treatise, Fader’s Maryland Law, 2011, (p. 5-8 thru 5-10) these factors include but are not limited to the following:
With all of these issues under consideration, it is easy to see that child custody determinations are among the most difficult decisions a Court is called upon to make. As a result, if these conflicts remain unresolved, they typically result in a multi-day merits hearing where witnesses are called and where the relevant facts are developed and litigated. At the conclusion of this process, the judge will then make conclusions as to the future custody arrangement will be in the best interests of the children.
For information about divorce, child custody or other family law matters, contact the Law Office of Michael Golburgh. We have years of experience in family law and divorce, with a mission to protect what our clients value most.