What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

There are two types of custody in Maryland: legal custody and physical custody.

The parties can jointly hold legal custody, or one party may be given sole legal custody of the child. Legal custody is the right to make major life decisions for a minor child, such as education, major medical treatment, and religious affiliation.

If both parents have joint legal custody, they both share that decision making right. It should be granted in a scenario where both parents are willing and able to effectively communicate with each other about decisions regarding their child.  In sole legal custody, the party granted the same is the decision-maker for the child.

Physical custody can be either shared physical custody or sole physical custody to one parent with visitation to the other. Sole custody involves one parent having physical custody of the child or children. The other parent, or “non-custodial” parent, only exercises physical custody over the child when visitation rights are involved.

In order for physical custody to be shared, both parties have at least a minimum of 128 overnight visitations (or 35% of the year) and both contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to any award of child support.