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Maryland Courts have new rules for child custody agreements

Judges rarely take action, even when prosecutors withhold evidence from defense
Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 13:28:13-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — Maryland courts have implemented a new plan for parents involved in child custody agreements.

The new process aims to have parents or guardians put the child's interests, not their own at the center of any decision-making.

To the plan is being followed, the courts are now requiring parents or guardians to create a parenting plan, a written agreement that outlines how decisions about a child’s health, education, and welfare will be made, and when the child will spend time with each parent or guardian.

“Maryland is formalizing a process that has been adopted in many states to address custody and access issues,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “Parenting plans reflect recommendations made by mental health and child development experts to help insulate children from adverse effects of conflict between parents. The new process helps ensure the best interests of the child are the focus of and guide the development of the parenting plan for the child.”

The written plan will guide how people will care for and make decisions for their child. Whether working together, separately, or with a mediator, the parents will have to file their plan with the court, which will ultimately decide if that plan is actually in the best interest of the child.

In cases where the parents are unable to agree on a plan, they must submit a joint statement form telling the court which issues they've resolved and which they need the court to decide.

Each parent can also propose a solution they believe is in the best interest of the child. A judge will then consider the entire joint statement in making a final decision.

The new rules went into effect on January 1, after making it's way through the Rules Committee, and being adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals

A detailed booklet that includes instructions on how to create a parenting plan, can be found here.