2019 Maryland Family Law Legislative Developments

Passed and becoming law effective October 1, 2019, unless otherwise stated:

  • HB519/SB697: Family Law – Parentage and Adoption (effective June 1, 2019)

Updates and expands parentage and adoption law, to account for: assisted reproductive technology, presumptions of parentage, applicability of presumed parentage, rebutting presumed parentage, DNA/genetic testing; codifies second parent adoptions; updates birth certificate conventions; and, updating to more gender neutral terminology.

  • HB742: Child Support – Extraordinary Medical Expenses

Updates Family Law §12-201’s definition of “extraordinary medical expenses” to apply to uninsured costs for medical treatment in excess of $250 in any calendar year and adds vision care as a covered expense.  Applies to expenses incurred on or after the effective date, October 1, 2019.

Establishes kinship caregivers and specifies eligibility requirements, with whom protective services may place a child and with whom the child is related by blood or marriage or is a close family friend.

  • SB567: Workgroup to Study Child Custody Court Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence Allegations (effective June 1, 2019-Novemer 30, 2020)

Establishes a Workgroup to study Maryland custody court processes for when child abuse or domestic violence are alleged during court proceedings; study available science and best practice pertaining to children in traumatic situations, including trauma-informed decision making; and, make recommendations about how to incorporate the latest science on safety and wellbeing of children and other victims of domestic violence into court proceedings.

Failed (so, not becoming law):

Children

HB373:  Family Law – Paternity and Birth Certificates

To update paternity law, to allow disestablishment of paternity based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact when in child’s best interest, unless the affidavit of parentage was signed knowing not the parent.

HB855/SB231:  Family Law – Marriage – Age Requirements

To raise the minimum age to marry to 18 years.  This effort became subsumed in the Emancipation of Minors Act (HB1147 below).

HB1030:  Civil Law – Jury Proceedings – Fundamental Rights

To create a right to jury trial in certain cases, including child custody.

HB1147:  Family Law – Minors – Emancipation (Emancipation of Minors Act)

To create a process for declaring a minor emancipated.  Passed House and Senate in different forms, without time to reconcile in conference committee.

SB264:  General Provisions – Age of Majority – Right to Parental Support and Maintenance

To raise the age of majority for support purposes to 21 years, provided the child is continuously enrolled in secondary school, postsecondary school, or vocational training program.

SB1042:  Family Law – Removal of Child from United States – Injunction

To codify the right to an injunction against international travel when there is reasonable belief of a planned child abduction or removal out of the United States.  Late filed, SB1042 sat in Senate Rules without Committee assignment.

Child Support

HB279/SB639:  Child Support – Multifamily Adjustment and Deviation from Guidelines

To standardize the calculation of child support when a parent supports a child, in his/her own home, from a different relationship.

HB726/SB762:  Child Support – Potential Income, Voluntary Impoverishment, and No Support Order

To bring Maryland law into alignment with federal regulations on voluntary impoverishment, imputed/potential income, and authorizing a court to decline to enter a child support order if certain criteria are met (such as unemployment, no financial resources, incarcerated, institutionalized, disabled, unemployable due to incarceration/hospitalization/rehabilitation).

HB731/SB638:  Child Support – Shared Physical Custody

To revise the shared physical custody threshold from 35% overnights to 25% (or from 128 overnights to 92).  Passed the House with amendment;  Passed the Senate as introduced;  time ran out to reconcile the difference.

HB732/SB763:  Child Support Guidelines – Revision

To update the child support guidelines with newer economic data;  extend the guidelines from combined monthly incomes of $15,000/month to $30,000/month;  create a Self-Support Reserve for low-income parents, providing a minimum financial threshold for the parent’s support and adjusting child support accordingly.

HB741:  Child Support Guidelines – Treatment of Alimony Payments

To update child support guidelines to account for federal changes in tax treatment of alimony.

HB937:  Family Law – Child Support – Eligibility of a Child Who Has Attained the Age of 18 Years

To entitle a child to support until age 21, provided the child is continuously enrolled in secondary school, postsecondary school, or vocational training program.

HB1222:  Family Law – Child Support Guidelines – Actual Income of Parent’s Spouse

To include a parent’s spouse’s income in the calculation of child support.

SB23:  Child Support – Lien Against Monetary Award

To create a lien against a monetary award from workers’ compensation and other claims for sickness, accident, injury, or death by an insurer and a process for asserting such a lien.

SB620:  Family Law – Child Support – Custody and Visitation

To require the court and Office of Child Support enforcement to advise the parties, in child support cases, of resources available to assist in establishing custody and visitation.

Divorce

HB281:  Crimes – Adultery – Repeal

To repeal adultery as a crime.

HB402:  Family Law – Grounds for Divorce

To redefine 12-month separation as separation of affection when the parties have not engaged in sexual relations for 12 months without interruption before filing for divorce.

Domestic Violence

HB122/SB209:  Protective Orders – Relief Eligibility – Rape and Sexual Offenses

To clarify existing protective & peace order law on the grounds of rape, attempted rape, and other sex offenses.

HB253:  Final Protective Orders – Relief – Transfer of Wireless Telephone Service

To allow a court in temporary and final protective orders to require the transfer of wireless telephone service and telephone number to the person eligible for relief or a minor child in the petitioner’s custody.

HB363/SB241:  Evidence – Testimony by Spouse – Violation of Protective Order

To exempt violation of protective order cases from the spousal privilege protecting a witness from being compelled to testify against his/her spouse.

HB665/SB811:  Criminal Procedure – Family Law Services for Sustained Services

To create and fund a Family Law Services legal representation program for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child support in divorce, custody, criminal injury compensation, and crime victim’s enforcement cases.

HB850:  Peace Orders & Protective Orders – Coercive Control

To add coercive control as an act of abuse for which a protective order may be sought.

HB958:  Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense

To repeal Criminal Law §3-318, excepting a legal spouse from prosecution for alleged rape and certain sexual offenses, unless the spouses live separate and apart without cohabitation.

SB98:  Family Law – Child Conceived Without Consent – Child Support

To create a right to child support against a person whose parental rights were terminated on the basis of child conceived without consent within 5 years of the termination.

Guardianship & Caregivers

HB864/SB675:  Duties of a Guardian of the Person – Petition for Visitation

To create a standard and process for an interested person who has a signification ongoing relationship with an alleged incapacitated or protected person to establish court-ordered visitation and contact with the alleged incapacitated or protected person.  Oddly, titled “duties of a guardian of the person”, but proposed to reside in the Family Law Article and not specifically applicable to guardianship wards.

HB1213:  Family Law – Guardianship and Adoption – Age of Consent and Revocation of Consent

Reducing the time for parental revocation of consent to guardianship or adoption from 30 to 20 days and increasing the age of child’s consent to adoption from 10 to 14 years old.

SB77:  Estates and Trusts – Protection of Minors and Disabled Persons – Guardianship

To overhaul and revise the statutory framework, procedure, standards, jurisdiction of guardianship matters.

SB1034:  Civil Actions – Family Caregiver Reimbursement

To create a cause of action for a family caregiver to seek reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred to provide care and support to a family member, with a 10 year statute of limitations.

Name Change

HB1005/SB905:  Action for Change of Name – Procedures and Requirements

To codify codified procedures and requirements for a name change, which now reside in Maryland Rule 15-901.

HB83:  Action for Change of Name – Minors

To exempt the publication requirement for parents who consent to a name change for their child in common.

Since 2002, Lindsay Parvis has represented clients in Maryland custody, divorce, and marital matters. She negotiates, litigates, and advocates for the best interests of her clients, whether in contested litigation, uncontested settlement, or premarital and other agreements. Her clients are not only spouses and parents, but also children whose interests she is appointed by the court to represent in contested custody litigation. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and University of Baltimore School of Law. Lindsay strives to improve Maryland law in the General Assembly, volunteering her time to monitor, advocate, and educate about legislative developments in family law.

You can follow her for discussion, news, and developments in Maryland family law on LinkedInFacebookInstagramTwitter, and LindsayParvis.com, as well as subscribe to her Newsletter.

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