Every year at this time I find myself having to remind my clients that, with school starting soon, it’s important to revisit or review the custody plan. Just a reminder: Maryland currently does not have a presumption that joint custody is in a child’s best interest, and both parties have to prove to the court why he or she is requesting a specific custody arrangement and why that arrangement is in their child’s best interest.
A “shared parenting” law (which Maryland does not have) has been deemed as an effective way to eliminate the tragic cases of parent alienation in families going through a messy divorce or separation. It is often seen as the best option to stop the trauma experienced by the family, especially the children, and to promote a more harmonious relationship between battling exes.
I am a strong believer that, when appropriate and when the facts of a particular case are right, shared custody is the best possible route for both the parents and their children. Unfortunately, the reality is that shared parenting is really not a goal for many separated families, particularly when it is not feasible such, as in high-conflict and domestic violence cases or complex living arrangements.
However, if there is no allegation of abuse, and the separated parents are not living too far apart, and if each party is involved in the child’s life, there is no reason why a shared custody arrangement should not be attempted. School schedules can make this more challenging, but the goal should always be to give children time with both parents.