Does the circuit court have jurisdiction to resolve a custody dispute if the parents are living together, regardless of whether the parents are married? The answer is yes.
In Ricketts v. Ricketts, 393 Md. 479, 501 (2006), the Court of Appeals held that a court had such jurisdiction in a divorce action even if the parents were sharing the same household and even if the court declined to grant a divorce. In a recent Court of Special Appeals case, Holbrook v. Newell, the holding of Ricketts was extended to cases where the parents are unmarried.
While the court has the authority to make a custody determination even if the parties are still living together, it may not be in a party’s or a child’s best interest to make such a request. No two custody cases are the same and each case is determined by a subjective analysis of factors related to a child’s best interests. If you are contemplating a custody action, Hess Family law can provide advice based on your particular situation and goals.