Family Law Legislative Update 2015 - 03-26

Of interest in the 3/26/15 family law legislative update:

Domestic violence

HB 224 and SB 315:  DV – 2 year protective order.  This provides that a judge may enter a 2 year protective order if the parties consent.  Passed both Houses.

HB 225 and SB 269:  DV – additional relief.  This expands what relief a judge may give in a final protective order to include “any other relief the judge determines is appropriate to protect” the person eligible for relief.  (This has been amended; the original bill included interim and temporary orders.)  Passed the House and the Senate.

HB 227:  FL – DV – definition of abuse.  This expands the definition of abuse to include harassment, trespass, and malicious destruction of property.  No action in the House.

HB 263:  DV – permanent protective orders – conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder.  This requires a judge to issue a final, permanent protective order if, the act of abuse that led to the order, the respondent has been convicted of and sentenced to at least five years for conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder and has served at least one year.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

HB 390 and SB 270:  protective order and peace order petitions – MD residents.  This allows petitions to be filed if the petitioner is a resident of the state of MD even if the alleged acts did not occur in MD.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

HB 606 and SB 477:  DV – persons eligible for relief.  This adds a person who has a sexual relationship with respondent to the definition of persons eligible for relief.  No action in the House, passed the Senate.

HB 807 and SB 277:  FL – protective orders – additional relief.  This allows a judge to order the respondent to stay “a specified distance” away from home, school, or job of the person eligible for relief.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

Child support

HB 163:  child support – adjusted actual income – multifamily adjustment.  For purposes of calculating the child support guidelines, this bill provides for an adjustment to actual income for an obligor when she has children living in her home who are not part of the child support case.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

Custody and visitation

HB 350:  child custody and visitation – deployed parents.  This forbids a court from making a negative inference regarding a parent’s deployment, authorizes a deployed parent to give testimony by phone or electronic means, and authorizes a court to grant custody or visitation to a third party on behalf of a deployed parent.  No action in the House.

HB 474:  FL – grandparent visitation.  This gives judges the right to grant visitation to grandparents if there is a finding of exceptional circumstances that demonstrate current or future detriment of the child if the visitation is not granted, the visitation won’t interfere with the parent-child relationship, and it is in the child’s best interests.  Unfavorable report by Judiciary.

HB 577 and SB 402:  FL – de facto parent.  This gives parental rights to a person who over a substantial period has been treated as a parent by the child, has a meaningful relationship with the child, and lived with the child, and has taken on full responsibility as a parent, and has held herself out as a parent with the agreement of a parent.  Unfavorable reports in both Houses.

HB 888 and SB 650:  FL – rebuttable presumption of joint custody.  No action in either House.

HB 1083 and SB 550:  child custody – legal decision making and parenting time.  This is the bill that seeks to codify pretty much all of custody and visitation law.  It provides for a lot of things, most notably:  (1) A list of factors to be considered by a judge in granting custody or visitation; and (2) A grant of rights to persons with “a parent-child” or “ongoing personal relationship” with the child.  It also changes “custody” and “visitation” to “legal decision making” and “parenting time.”  This bill is 16 pages long and advocates should read it; it’s not possible to summarize it adequately in this space.  No action in the House.

HB 1192:  FL – child support – custody and visitation determinations.  This requires a court, in any child support case, to consider custody and visitation.  No action in either House.


HB 165:  FL – grounds for limited divorce.  This bill would change one of the grounds for limited divorce from voluntary separation to separation.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

HB 1185:  FL – application for divorce – residency requirement.  This reduces the residency requirement from one year to six months.  Passed the House, in Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.

SB 472:  FL – grounds for divorce – mutual consent.  This adds “mutual consent” as grounds for absolute divorce if there is a written settlement agreement.  Passed the Senate, in Judiciary in the House.


Civil right to counsel:  HB 348 and SB 468.  Unfavorable reports in both Houses.

There has been no action on HB 503 or SB 78, the rape survivor family protection act, which requires a judge to exclude as the father of a child a man who has committed certain enumerated sex acts of which the child is a result, but is allowed to assess child support against the man.

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