Every state has laws on child custody, which are updated periodically. These are usually minor updates, however, sometimes a significant and complete change takes place. Maryland currently requires parents to complete a parenting plan. To answer your questions and come up with a parenting plan that will best suit your situation, it is strongly advised that you talk to your attorney first to ensure you understand the new law.

Starting in February 2020, Maryland requires every parent to complete a parenting plan in custody cases. The judiciary specifically defines a parenting plan as a written agreement describing how the parties will care for and make decisions regarding their children. In other words, it is a mutually agreed-upon resolution between the parents of a child that defines the terms or framework of how they each will exactly carry out the decision-making and other child-care responsibilities.

Most parents may consider it similar to a custody agreement. They may assume joint legal custody with the mother having primary physical custody and the father having visitation schedules or joint legal custody with 50-50 child physical custody with each parent having the child for two weeks every month. A complete parenting plan covers more than this. It will cover which parent is responsible for medical decisions, educational decisions, religious-training decisions, and recreational or extracurricular decisions. The plan could assign sole decision-making authority in one or two or more areas to one parent or state that both parents have joint decision-making authority. Furthermore, the plan can also indicate how to manage transporting the child between homes, the venue or location the exchanges will take place, and who will take care of the child due to a parent’s unavailability at certain times.

It is best practice to have the details and terms written down for the convenience and benefit of everyone. Having the plan written as a document increases the chances of parents agreeing on more areas rather than having a judge decide on these areas. A written plan also eases conflict by organizing details and preventing confusion and uncertainty. More importantly, a written parenting plan will provide better child protection because of lower chances of conflict between parents.

What if my ex and I cannot seem to agree?

It would be perfect if all parents could come to an agreement on all issues, but we all know that is not the case. In the event that you cannot agree, you may file with the court a form, “Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Decision-Making Authority and Parenting Time”. The court will then schedule your case for a settlement conference or a trial.

You need the right attorney to help you along the process. Whether you are formulating a parenting plan by making certain that your ex is being fair in their terms or preparing for a settlement conference or a trial by providing you support when the process turns adversarial. We are here to help you with your case and parenting plan. Contact us today so we can get started.