What is Third Party Custody in Maryland?

In Maryland what is third party custody?  In the most traditionally defined family arrangement, a child has a biological mother and father. But families come in all sorts of configurations and change with circumstances. When a person not outside of the traditional, legal definition seeks custody or visitation of a child – that person is considered a legal “third party.” While it can be more difficult for third parties to get custody, there are exceptional circumstances that can make such a custodial arrangement consistent with the best interests of the child. More than that, because of the parental presumptions that arise in marriage (and in some states domestic partnerships) in both heterosexual and same-sex, non-biological parents may find themselves in an improved legal position to strictly defined third parties.