HOUSE BILL 505
HB 1328/20 – JUD
By: Delegate Dumais
Introduced and read first time: January 15, 2021
Assigned to: Judiciary
A BILL ENTITLED
1 AN ACT concerning
2 Child Custody – Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time
3 FOR the purpose of repealing references to the terms “child custody” and “visitation” in
4 certain instances and substituting the terms “legal decision making” and “parenting
5 time” in certain instances; authorizing the court, in determining certain legal
6 decision–making authority and parenting time in certain child custody proceedings,
7 to consider certain factors; requiring the court to articulate certain findings of fact
8 on the record; authorizing the court to award joint legal decision making to both
9 parties under certain circumstances; prohibiting a party from unilaterally making
10 certain decisions concerning a child without agreement of the other party or order of
11 the court under certain circumstances; authorizing the court to modify a child
12 custody or visitation order or a legal decision–making or parenting–time order under
13 certain circumstances; specifying that a party’s proposal to relocate the residence of
14 the party or the child in a certain manner constitutes a material change in
15 circumstances for purposes of a modification of an order; specifying the purposes of
16 this Act; repealing certain provisions relating to the relevancy of a disability of a
17 party in a child custody or visitation proceeding; making certain clarifying and
18 conforming changes; defining certain terms; and generally relating to child custody,
19 visitation, legal decision making, and parenting time.
20 BY repealing
21 Article – Family Law
22 Section 5–203(d) and 9–107
23 Annotated Code of Maryland
24 (2019 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
25 BY adding to
26 Article – Family Law
27 Section 9–101 and 9–103 to be under the amended subtitle “Subtitle 1. Definitions;
28 General Provisions” and the amended title “Title 9. Custodial Arrangements
29 for Children”; and 9–201 through 9–204 to be under the new subtitle “Subtitle
EXPLANATION: CAPITALS INDICATE MATTER ADDED TO EXISTING LAW.
[Brackets] indicate matter deleted from existing law.
2 HOUSE BILL 505
1 2. Legal Decision Making and Parental Responsibility – Judicial
3 Annotated Code of Maryland
4 (2019 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
5 BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
6 Article – Family Law
7 Section 9–101, 9–101.1, 9–101.2, 9–103, 9–104, 9–105, 9–106, and 9–108
8 Annotated Code of Maryland
9 (2019 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
10 SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF MARYLAND,
11 That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:
12 Article – Family Law
14 [(d) (1) If the parents live apart, a court may award custody of a minor child to
15 either parent or joint custody to both parents.
16 (2) Neither parent is presumed to have any right to custody that is superior
17 to the right of the other parent.]
18 Title 9. [Child Custody and Visitation] CUSTODIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN.
19 Subtitle 1. [In General] DEFINITIONS; GENERAL PROVISIONS.
21 (A) IN THIS TITLE THE FOLLOWING WORDS HAVE THE MEANINGS
23 (B) “CHILD” MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS.
24 (C) (1)
“LEGAL DECISION MAKING” MEANS THE RIGHT AND OBLIGATION
25 TO MAKE MAJOR LONG–TERM DECISIONS INVOLVING MEDICAL CARE, MENTAL
26 HEALTH, EDUCATION, RELIGIOUS TRAINING, EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, AND
27 OTHER MATTERS OF MAJOR SIGNIFICANCE CONCERNING THE CHILD’S LIFE AND
29 (2) “LEGAL DECISION MAKING” IS ALSO KNOWN AS LEGAL CUSTODY.
30 (D) (1) “PARENTING TIME” MEANS:
HOUSE BILL 505 3
THE TIME THE CHILD IS IN A PARENT’S CARE ACCORDING TO
2 AN AGREEMENT OR A COURT–ORDERED SCHEDULE; AND
THE RIGHT AND OBLIGATION OF A PARENT TO PROVIDE A
4 HOME FOR THE CHILD, ADDRESS THE CHILD’S NEEDS, AND MAKE THE DAY–TO–DAY
5 DECISIONS REQUIRED DURING THE TIME THE CHILD IS WITH THAT PARENT.
6 (2) “PARENTING TIME” IS ALSO KNOWN AS PHYSICAL CUSTODY,
7 VISITATION, OR ACCESS.
9 (A) IF THE PARENTS LIVE APART, A COURT MAY AWARD LEGAL DECISION
10 MAKING OR PARENTING TIME TO EITHER PARENT OR JOINTLY TO BOTH PARENTS.
11 (B) NEITHER PARENT IS PRESUMED TO HAVE ANY RIGHT TO LEGAL
12 DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME THAT IS SUPERIOR TO THE RIGHT OF THE
13 OTHER PARENT.
14 [9–101.] 9–104.
15 (a) In any [custody or visitation] LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
16 PARENTING–TIME proceeding, if the court has reasonable grounds to believe that a child
17 has been abused or neglected by a party to the proceeding, the court shall determine
18 whether abuse or neglect is likely to occur if [custody or visitation] LEGAL
19 DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME rights are granted to the party.
20 (b) Unless the court specifically finds that there is no likelihood of further child
21 abuse or neglect by the party, the court shall deny [custody or visitation] LEGAL
22 DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME rights to that party, except that the court may
23 approve a supervised [visitation] PARENTING–TIME arrangement that assures the safety
24 and the physiological, psychological, and emotional well–being of the child.
25 [9–101.1.] 9–105.
26 (a) In this section, “abuse” has the meaning stated in § 4–501 of this article.
27 (b) In a [custody or visitation] LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
28 PARENTING–TIME proceeding, the court shall consider[, when deciding custody or
29 visitation issues,] evidence of abuse by a party against:
30 (1) the other parent of the party’s child;
31 (2) the party’s spouse; or
4 HOUSE BILL 505
1 (3) any child residing within the party’s household, including a child other
2 than the child who is the subject of the [custody or visitation] proceeding.
3 (c) If the court finds that a party has committed abuse against the other parent
4 of the party’s child, the party’s spouse, or any child residing within the party’s household,
5 the court shall make arrangements for [custody or visitation] LEGAL DECISION MAKING
6 OR PARENTING TIME that best protect:
7 (1) the child who is the subject of the proceeding; and
8 (2) the victim of the abuse.
9 [9–101.2.] 9–106.
10 (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, unless good cause for the
11 award of [custody or visitation] LEGAL DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME is
12 shown by clear and convincing evidence, a court may not award [custody of a child or
13 visitation with a child] LEGAL DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME:
14 (1) to a parent who has been found by a court of this State to be guilty of
15 first degree or second degree murder of the other parent of the child, another child of the
16 parent, or any family member residing in the household of either parent of the child; or
17 (2) to a parent who has been found by a court of any state or of the United
18 States to be guilty of a crime that, if committed in this State, would be first degree murder
19 or second degree murder of the other parent of the child, another child of the parent, or any
20 family member residing in the household of either parent of the child.
21 (b) If it is in the best interest of the child, the court may approve a supervised
22 [visitation] PARENTING–TIME arrangement that assures the safety and the physiological,
23 psychological, and emotional well–being of the child.
24 [9–103.] 9–107.
25 (a) A child who is 16 years old or older and who is subject to a custody order or
26 decree OR A LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME ORDER OR DECREE may
27 file a petition to change custody OR LEGAL DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME.
28 (b) A petitioner under this section may file the proceeding in the petitioner’s own
29 name and need not proceed by guardian or next friend.
30 (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, if a petitioner under this
31 section petitions a court to amend a custody order or decree OR A LEGAL
32 DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME ORDER OR DECREE, the court:
HOUSE BILL 505 5
1 (1) shall hold a hearing; and
2 may amend the order or decree and [place the child in the custody of]
3 GRANT LEGAL DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME TO the parent designated by
4 the child.
5 [9–104.] 9–108.
6 Unless otherwise ordered by a court, access to medical, dental, and educational
7 records concerning the child may not be denied to a parent [because the parent does not
8 have physical custody of the child].
9 [9–105.] 9–109.
10 [In any custody or visitation proceeding, if] IF the court determines that a party to
11 a custody or visitation order OR LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME
12 ORDER has unjustifiably denied or interfered with [visitation] THE RIGHTS granted by [a
13 custody or visitation] THE order, the court may, in addition to any other remedy available
14 to the court and in a manner consistent with the best interests of the child, take any or all
15 of the following actions:
16 (1) order that the [visitation] PARENTING TIME be rescheduled;
17 (2) modify the custody or visitation OR LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
18 PARENTING–TIME order to require additional terms or conditions designed to ensure
19 future compliance with the order; or
20 (3) assess costs or counsel fees against the party who has unjustifiably
21 denied or interfered with [visitation] PARENTING–TIME rights.
22 [9–106.] 9–110.
23 (a) (1) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, in any [custody or
24 visitation] LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME proceeding the court [may]
25 SHALL include as a condition of a [custody or visitation] LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
26 PARENTING–TIME order a requirement that either party provide advance written notice
27 of at least 90 days to the court, the other party, or both, of the intent to relocate the
28 permanent residence of the party or the child either within or outside the State.
29 (2) The court may prescribe the form and content of the notice requirement.
30 (3) If the court orders that notice be given to the other party, a mailing of
31 the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the other
32 party shall be deemed sufficient to comply with the notice requirement.
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1 (4) If either party files a petition regarding a proposed relocation within 20
2 days of the written notice of the relocation required by paragraph (1) of this subsection, the
3 court shall set a hearing on the petition on an expedited basis.
4 (b) On a showing that notice would expose the child or either party to abuse as
5 defined in § 4–501 of this article or for any other good cause the court shall waive the notice
6 required by this section.
7 (c) If either party is required to relocate in less than the 90–day period specified
8 in the notice requirement, the court may consider as a defense to any action brought for a
9 violation of the notice requirement that:
10 (1) relocation was necessary due to financial or other extenuating
11 circumstances; and
12 (2) the required notice was given within a reasonable time after learning
13 of the necessity to relocate.
14 (d) The court may consider any violation of the notice requirement as a factor in
15 determining the merits of any subsequent proceeding involving [custody or visitation]
16 LEGAL DECISION MAKING OR PARENTING TIME.
18 (a) (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
19 (2) (i) “Disability” means:
20 1. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits
21 one or more of an individual’s major life activities;
22 2. a record of having a physical or mental impairment that
23 substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities; or
24 3. being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment
25 that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities.
26 (ii) “Disability” shall be construed in accordance with the ADA
27 Amendments Act of 2008, P.L. 110–325.
28 (3) “Supportive parenting services” means services that may assist an
29 individual with a disability in the effective use of techniques and methods to enable the
30 individual to discharge the individual’s responsibilities to a child as successfully as an
31 individual who does not have a disability, including nonvisual techniques for individuals
32 who are blind.
33 (b) (1) In any custody or visitation proceeding, the disability of a party is
HOUSE BILL 505 7
1 relevant only to the extent that the court finds, based on evidence in the record, that the
2 disability affects the best interest of the child.
3 (2) The party alleging that the disability of the other party affects the best
4 interest of the child bears the burden of proving that the disability of the other party affects
5 the best interest of the child.
6 (3) If the burden of proof is met, the party who has a disability shall have
7 the opportunity to prove that supportive parenting services would prevent a finding that
8 the disability affects the best interest of the child.
9 (4) If the court finds that the disability of a party affects the best interest
10 of the child and denies or limits custody or visitation, the court shall specifically state in
12 (i) the basis for the finding; and
13 (ii) the reason that the provision of supportive parenting services is
14 not a reasonable accommodation to prevent the finding.]
15 [9–108.] 9–111.
16 (a) In this section:
17 (1) “deployment” means compliance with military orders received by a
18 member of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National
19 Guard, or any other Reserve component to report for combat operations or other active
20 service for which the member is required to report unaccompanied by any family member
21 or that is classified by the member’s branch as remote; and
22 (2) “deployment” does not include National Guard or Reserve annual
23 training, inactive duty days, or drill weekends.
24 (b) Any order or modification of an existing child custody or visitation order OR
25 LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR PARENTING–TIME ORDER issued by a court during a
26 term of a deployment of a parent shall specifically reference the deployment of the parent.
27 (c) (1) A parent who petitions the court for an order or modification of an
28 existing child custody or visitation order OR LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
29 PARENTING–TIME ORDER after returning from a deployment shall specifically reference
30 the date of the end of the deployment in the petition.
31 (2) (i) If the petition under paragraph (1) of this subsection is filed
32 within 30 days after the end of the deployment of the parent, the court shall set a hearing
33 on the petition on an expedited basis.
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1 (ii) If the court finds that extenuating circumstances prohibited the
2 filing of the petition within 30 days after the end of the deployment of the parent, the court
3 may set a hearing on the petition on an expedited basis whenever the petition is filed.
4 (d) Any [custody
or visitation] LEGAL DECISION–MAKING OR
5 PARENTING–TIME order issued based on the deployment of a parent shall require that:
6 (1) the other parent reasonably accommodate the leave schedule of the
7 parent who is subject to the deployment;
8 (2) the other parent facilitate opportunities for telephone and electronic
9 mail contact between the parent who is subject to the deployment and the child during the
10 period of deployment; and
11 (3) the parent who is subject to the deployment provide timely information
12 regarding the parent’s leave schedule to the other parent.
13 SUBTITLE 2. LEGAL DECISION MAKING AND PARENTAL
14 RESPONSIBILITY – JUDICIAL DETERMINATIONS.
16 THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBTITLE ARE TO: