Family Law Legislative Update 2015 - 04-17

The legislative session is officially over; however, that doesn’t mean what has made it onto the website is the last, final action of the legislature.

There is a lot the legislature did that is important, and some things they failed to do which are just as instructive.

First, custody and visitation.  There were some bills that would have changed current law drastically.  None of them went anywhere.

Child custody and visitation – deployed parents (HB 350). No action.

FL – grandparent visitation (HB 474).  Unfavorable report in House.

Rape survivor family protection act (HB 503/SB 78). No action.

FL – de facto parent (HB 577/SB 402).  Unfavorable reports in House and Senate.

FL – rebuttable presumption of joint custody (HB 888/SB 650).  No action.

Child custody – legal decision making and parenting time (HB 1083/SB 550). No action.

Second, divorce.

Family law – grounds for limited divorce (HB 165).  Changes grounds for limited divorce FL 7-102(a)(4) to remove the word “voluntary.”  That means when separation is the grounds for limited divorce, it does not have to be voluntary and it doesn’t have to be without reasonable expectation for reconciliation.  Passed the House and the Senate, returned passed, as of “press time,” hasn’t been enrolled.

FL – application for divorce – residency requirement (HB 1185).  Changes the residency requirement from 1 year to 6 months.  Passed House and Senate, returned passed, not yet enrolled.

FL – grounds for divorce – mutual consent (SB 472).  Adds to FL 7-103(a) an 8th ground for absolute divorce – mutual consent, if the parties have no children, have a written separation agreement that resolves alimony and property, and if both parties show up for the uncontested hearing.  There is no waiting period.  The parties file a complaint with the separation agreement attached, have an uncontested hearing, and it’s over.  Enrolled.

Third, domestic violence.

DV – 2-year protective order (HB 224/SB 315).  Authorizes a judge to extend a protective order for a 2nd year if the respondent consents.  Passed House and Senate, returned passed, not yet enrolled.

DV – additional relief (HB 225/SB 269).  Authorizes a judge to award “any other relief necessary” in a final protective order.  Enrolled.

FL – DV – definition of abuse (HB 227). Would have added harassment, trespass, or malicious destruction of property, as defined by the criminal code, to the acts that are defined as abuse.  Unfavorable report in House.

DV – Permanent protective orders – conspiracy or solicitation to murder (HB 263).  Passed House and Senate, returned passed, not yet enrolled.

Protective order and peace order petitions – Maryland residents (HB 390/SB 270).  Provides that a petitioner has grounds for peace or protective order if the act occurred in MD or if the petitioner is a resident of MD, also adds a lot of language about full faith and credit afforded to foreign protective orders.  Enrolled.

DV – persons eligible for relief (HB 606/SB 477).  Adds as person eligible for relief a person who has had a sexual relationship with the respondent within 1 year prior to the filing of the petition.  SB 477 enrolled.

FL – protective orders – additional relief (HB 807/SB 277).  In a final protective order, authorizes a judge to order the respondent to stay “a specified distance” from residence, job, or school.  Passed the House, no action in the Senate.

Child support

Child support – adjusted actual income – multifamily adjustment (HB 163).  Provides an adjustment for child support payors who have children living in their homes.  Passed the House, no action in the Senate.

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