Earlier this year, Maryland passed a law requiring parents involved in custody cases to file a written parenting plan with the court. This agreement will work in tandem with the legal custody order and the child support order to ensure parents work together to meet the child’s financial, emotional and physical needs after a divorce. 

Parents facing a potential custody case should become familiar with how custody, parenting plans and child support interact in Maryland divorce cases. 

What is a parenting plan?

Parents must submit a plan that describes how they will collaborate on important decisions for the child. The parenting plan should also include a schedule for physical time with each parent and details about how parents will handle school vacations, travel, and transportation to and from visits. 

How does the parenting plan affect custody?

Maryland requires a parenting plan whenever parents ask the court to create or modify a custody order. The court can award either sole or joint legal and physical custody. The parent who has physical custody lives with the child most of the time. Legal custody is the right to guide the child’s upbringing. 

Ideally, divorcing parents will agree on a parenting plan that will inform the legal custody order. When parents disagree, each can submit his or her own plan and present evidence to support that plan during a court hearing. 

Does custody influence child support?

Generally, if one parent has sole physical custody the other parent will pay child support. However, Maryland provides an adjustment to child support when each parent has at least 127 overnights with the child per year. 

Because every family has different circumstances, parents should work closely with their attorneys and the court to come to an agreement that supports the child’s well-being.