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Columbia Family & Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > Maryland Parenting Plans and What They Mean to Parents

Maryland Parenting Plans and What They Mean to Parents

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Parenting Plans are now a requirement for litigants going through the Maryland court system.

A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between parents that sets forth their plan for raising their child(ren) in the child(ren)’s best interest.  The courts throughout the state now require parents to work on a Parenting Plan either with the other parent, on their own, with counsel, or with a mediator.  Assuming the parents can reach an acceptable plan, they would then file the Parenting Plan with the court for the court’s review in the best interest of the child(ren).  A common question amongst litigants was what is the “best interest of the children”?

Factors the Court considers in determining the Best Interest of the Child:

  1. Stability and the foreseeable health and welfare of the child;
  2. Frequency, regular and continuing contact with parties who can act in the child’s best interest;
  3. Whether and how parties who do not live together will share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child;
  4. The child’s relationship with each party, any sibling, other relatives and individuals who are or may become important in the child’s life;
  5. The child’s physical and emotional security and protection from conflict and violence;
  6. The child’s developmental needs, including physical safety, emotional security, positive self-image, interpersonal skills, and intellectual and cognitive growth;
  7. The day-to-day needs of the child, including education, socialization, culture and religion, food, shelter, clothing and mental and physical health;
  8. How well the parties each
    1. Place the child’s need above the parties’ need;
    2. Protect the child from the negative effects of any conflict between the parties; and
    3. Maintain the child’s relationship with the parties, siblings, other relatives, or individuals who have or likely may have a significant relationship with the child;
  9. Age of the child;
  10. Any military deployment of a party and its effect, if any, on the parent-child relationship
  11. Any prior court orders or agreements between the parties;
  12. Each party’s role and tasks related to the child and how, if at all, those roles and tasks have changed;
  13. The location of each party’s home as it related to their ability to coordinate parenting time, school and activities;
  14. The parties’ relationship with each other including:
  15. communicating with each other;
  16. whether they can co-parent without disrupting the child’s social and school life;
  17. how the parties will resolve any disputes in the future without the need for court intervention.
  18. The child’s preference, if age appropriate;
  19. Any other factors deemed appropriate by the parties.

If the parties cannot construct a Joint Parenting Plan, then the parties must complete a Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time pursuant to Md. Rule 9-204.2

Benefits of a Joint Parenting Plan:

  • Clear expectations between parents
  • Avoid expensive legal fees
  • Time consuming  and emotional litigation
  • Reduce conflict between parents and the child(ren)
  • Stress of future court hearings because of unclear or lack of detail agreement
  • Form routines in both households that give child(ren) consistency
  • Parents make decisions about their child(ren), not a Judge who doesn’t know your child(ren) or the family

Tools available to parents:

  • Maryland Parenting Plan Instructions (CC-DRIN-109)
  • Maryland Parenting Plan Tool (CC-DR-109)
  • Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Decision Making Authority and Parenting Time (Md. Rule 9-204.2)
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