Maryland Family Law Update: Custody Cases Must Complete a Parenting Plan
Starting January 1, 2020, all parents that have a custody dispute before the Court will be required to provide the Court with an agreed upon Parenting Plan or – if they are unable to reach an agreement – a “Joint Statement Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time”.
What is exactly is a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement describing how the parents will work together to care for their child(ren). The parents are required to attend a scheduling conference where the Court will provide them with a copy of the Maryland Parenting Plan tool to assist them in creating their Parenting Plan. Then, the parents will work separately or together to complete their Parenting Plan.
The parties’ can consult with their attorneys to create a Parenting Plan. If the parties have been ordered to attend a parenting education seminar, Parenting Plans will be explained and addressed during the session. And if the parties have been ordered to attend mediation, the mediator can also assist the parents in creating their Parenting Plan.
The Court will integrate the Parenting Plan into the final custody decision if they find that the terms are in the child’s best interest.
What is a Joint Statement of Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time?
If the parents are unable to agree on a comprehensive Parenting Plan, then they are now required to complete a Joint Statement Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time and file this with the Court. The Joint Statement notifies the Court of any remaining disputes regarding decision making (“legal custody” ) and parenting time (“physical custody”).
The parents can consult with their attorneys and/or a mediator to complete a Joint Statement. The Joint Statement must file be filed at least 10 days before the Court-ordered settlement conference or, if the case has not been set in for a settlement conference, then it must be filed 20 days before the trial date. The Court can issue sanctions if parents are non-compliant.
The Court will consider the Joint Statement when making the custody decision, which shall be made with the child’s best interest as a top priority.
If you have any questions about Parenting Plans or Joint Statements of Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time, please contact the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman LLC at 410-842-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.