1. [§ 10.8] Child Custody Generally


1. [§ 10.8] Child custody generally

A parent has a fundamental right to the care and custody of his or her child. In re R.S., 470 Md. 380, 412, 235 A.3d 914, 933 (2020) (discussing in-depth the fundamental right to parent); Boswell v. Boswell, 352 Md. 204, 217-18, 721 A.2d 662, 668 (1998); Best v. Fraser, 252 Md. App. 427, 435, 259 A.3d 194, 198 (2021). The United States Supreme Court has upheld the rights of parents regarding the care, custody, and management of their children in several contexts, including child rearing, education, and religion. Boswell, 352 Md. at 217-18, 721 A.2d at 668 (citing Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972) (discussing the right of parents to raise their children)). As recognized by the Maryland courts, "[a] parent's Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest in raising his or her children as she sees fit, without undue interference by the State, has long been a facet of that private realm of family affairs over which the Supreme Court has draped a cloak of constitutional protection." Boswell, 352 Md. at 218, 721 A.2d at 668-69, quoting Wolinski v. Browneller, 115 Md. App. 285, 299, 693 A.2d 30, 36-37 (1997). "This right is in the nature of a liberty interest that has long been recognized and protected under the state and federal constitutions." Boswell, 352 Md. at 218, 721 A.2d at 669 (quoting In re Adoption, 103 Md.App. 1, 12, 651 A.2d 891, 897 (1994)).

In all custody and visitation determinations, the best interest of the child is the "overarching consideration." Baldwin v. Baynard, 215 Md. App. 82, 108, 79 A.3d 428 (2013); Michael Gerald D. v. Roseann B, 220 Md. App. 669, 679, 105 A.3d 578, 584 (2014). "Thus, while a parent has a fundamental right to raise his or her own child . . . the best interests of the child may take precedence over the parent's liberty interest in the course of a custody, visitation, or adoption dispute." Michael Gerald D, 220 Md. App. at 679, 105 A.3d at 584 (quoting Boswell, 352 Md. at 219, 721 A.2d at 669-670); see also In re O.P., 470 Md. 225, 234, 235 A.3d 40, 45 (2020) (citing Boswell). Custody and visitation determinations are within the sound discretion of the trial court, as it can best evaluate the facts of the case and assess the credibility of witnesses. Boswell, 352 Md. at 223, 721 A.2d at 671.

Custody refers to both legal and physical custody.

Legal custody carries with it the right and obligation to make long range decisions involving education, religious training, discipline, medical

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