Family Law Legislative Update 2015 - 02-13

Here's the latest updated list of the status of family law bills pending before the Maryland legislature.

The bill recommended by the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making has made an appearance in both houses.  It is cross-filed as SB 550/HB 1083:  Child Custody - Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time.  It, essentially, codifies all of child custody decision making.  Some of the highlights:

"Legal decision making" means legal custody and "parenting time" means physical or residential custody, visitation, or access. 

There is no presumption of joint legal or joint physical custody.

The new § 9-201, et seq., is "Legal Decision Making and Parental Responsibility -- Judicial Determinations."  It codifies the Sanders and Taylor factors, changing some, deleting some, adding some, and dividing them into what the judge shall consider and what she may consider.

Also in the new § 9-201, et seq., there is a list of factors the court may not consider unless the court finds a risk of harm to the child, including things like a parent's mental or physical disability, relative economic status, race, religion, etc., and extramarital sexual conduct.  Included in that list is a parent's sexual orientation or gender identity.

There are two new categories of third party rights, the rights of "de facto parents" and of people with an "ongoing personal relationship" with the child.  The third party provisions are contained in the new § 9-106.  This section contains a substantial change in Maryland law regarding the rights of third parties - for good or ill, it is a huge change.

Anyone practicing family law should read the bill carefully.  I have attached it.

2015 02-13 FL Legislative Update.docx44.39 KB
Child Custody - Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time - SB 550.pdf146.9 KB


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