Legal Blog

Understanding Child Custody

shutterstock_193254953The divorce process can be a stressful and confusing one, especially when children are involved.  Settling the terms of custody for your children will not only help to give you a sense of predictability and understanding, but it will also help your children to adjust to the changes that occur during this time of transition. There are different arrangements that can be established to deal with the issues surrounding child custody.

Child custody is of two varieties:  legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody determines the authority of each parent to make major decisions affecting the child, such as education, religion, and health.  Physical custody determines the actual residence of the child.

There are some common patterns to custody arrangements that parents may agree upon. One is sole physical custody. When sole physical custody is awarded, this means that the child resides with one parent the majority of the time, and that parent is the custodial parent. The parent that the child does not live with is the non-custodial parent and has an access schedule that includes a regular schedule as well as a holiday schedule of access. Shared physical custody means that there is more of a sharing of the child’s time with each parent which means at least 128 overnights for the parent with the least amount of time.

Irrespective of the physical custody arrangements, legal custody must be determined. Sole legal custody vests one parent with the authority to make the major decisions affecting the child.  Joint legal custody provides for both parents to jointly make the major decisions affecting the child.

Finally, one of the less common custody scenarios is split custody.  In a split custody situation, there are multiple children and each parent takes custody of one or more of the children, and the other parent has custody of the remaining child or children. While this situation does not occur often, it helps to be aware of the different options.

Shared custodial arrangements, be they physical and/or legal, require significant communication and respect between the parents. If that cooperation and communication do not exist, shared arrangements will not serve the children or the parties well.

With teamwork and cooperation between both parents, determining the best child custody situation for your family will be less problematic. Parents should approach the process having as their primary consideration, what is in the best interest of the children. In this area more than any other, the children must come first

For more information or assistance with your child custody arrangements, please contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz, at or (301) 575-0381.


Linda OstovitzLinda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.


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