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Child custody and visitation, what is the difference?

For couples in Maryland or elsewhere with children who are going through divorce or separation, it can be difficult to determine the roles each parent will play going forward. Child custody is often a contentious topic of conversation, one that can take time to resolve. There are even cases in which awarding custody to one parent may not be ideal.

When there are concerns about awarding child custody in any form to one parent, visitation may be considered. Some may wonder, though, how are custody and visitation different? One or both parents may be granted child custody in sole or joint agreements. This means that the affected children will live with one or both parents for a set period of time. When custody is only granted to one parent -- sole custody -- the non-custodial parent may still be granted access to his or her children through visitation.

Visitation schedules, if approved, grant non-custodial parents supervised or unsupervised time with their children. Supervision may be required if there are concerns of domestic violence or other issues that raise alarm for the children's welfare. Visitation schedules can be determined in court, or parents can work them out on their own.

When granting joint custody is not an ideal option, visitation still allows the non-custodial parent access to his or her children. This is certainly a great option for those who wish to maintain relationships with their children. An experienced family law attorney can assist parents in Maryland to negotiate child custody and visitation arrangements that suit their needs and desires, all while keeping the best interests of their children in mind.

Source:, "Know the Laws: Maryland -- Is there any difference between custody and visitation?", Accessed on July 6, 2016

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