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Proposed Family Law Bills in the 2019 Session of the General Assembly

By: Ferrier R. Stillman and Kerianne P. Kemmerzell

Several bills, which affect child support, divorcing couples, and the practice of family law, will be considered in the 2019 session of the General Assembly.

There are two child support bills being considered.  The first bill aims to alter the definition of “adjusted actual income” under the Maryland State child support guidelines.  Currently, when calculating a parent’s “adjusted actual income,” the Maryland child support guidelines take into consideration support a parent is paying for another child only if that support is paid pursuant to a preexisting child support order.  This bill proposes that the child support guidelines consider support paid by a parent for each child living in a parent’s home and to whom that parent owes a legal duty of support, even if there is no preexisting child support order.

The second bill aims to amend the definition of “shared physical custody” and how shared physical custody affects a child support order.  Currently, shared physical custody is defined by each parent keeping a child overnight for 35% (or 128 overnights) of the year.  This bill proposes that the definition of shared physical custody be changed to 25% (at least 92 overnights) of the year.  It also proposes a “shared physical custody adjustment” formula for parents who keep a child more than 25%, but less than 30%, of the year. 

Lastly, a bill is being considered that would allow a court to grant a divorce on the ground of separation even if the parties are still living together so long as the parties have not engaged in sexual relations during that period of separation.  Currently, in order for a court to grant a divorce on the ground of separation, the parties must be living separate and apart without cohabitation.  This bill proposes for a court to be able to grant a limited divorce on the ground of separation so long as the parties merely refrain from sexual relations and for a court to be able to grant an absolute divorce on the ground of separation so long as the parties refrain from sexual relations for a period of 12 months.  

If you have questions about these or other family law issues, please contact Ferrier Stillman or Kerianne Kemmerzell.  The firm has offices in downtown Baltimore and in Towson.

This alert has been prepared by Tydings for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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