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Parenting plan process rolls out in Maryland custody cases

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera xxxxxxx (Bryan P. Sears/The Daily Record)

Maryland Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. (Bryan P. Sears/The Daily Record)

Maryland’s new parenting plan process for custody matters went into effect earlier this year and aims to prioritize the best interests of children and encourage collaboration between parents.

A parenting plan determines how parents will care for children and make major decisions, according to a news release from the Maryland Judiciary. Parents develop the plan together, separately or with a mediator and file it with the court.

The Maryland Judicial Council’s Domestic Law Committee and Court Process Work Group crafted the proposal for the process, which was approved by the Court of Appeals last year. The process went into effect Jan. 1.

“There are many benefits to a parenting plan,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Callahan, chair of the Domestic Law Committee, said in a statement. “They encourage parents to consider and anticipate their children’s unique needs, foster co-parenting relationships, provide predictability and structure, and promote and ensure children’s continued relationships with each party. In general, it focuses on the children rather than on the adults and on cooperation and mutually beneficial decisions rather than on conflict.”

If parents cannot agree on a comprehensive plan, they must provide the court with a joint form outlining the areas of agreement and the unresolved issues, according to the release, which added that a judge will review the disputed issues and determine a solution in the best interest of the child.

“Parenting plans reflect recommendations made by mental health and child development experts to help insulate children from adverse effects of conflict between parents,” Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera said in a statement. “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.”


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