October 16, 2013
By Mark Cyzyk, Member, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Maryland

Governor Martin O’Malley has convened a Maryland Commission on Child Custody Decision Making. Maybe this is an indication that our Maryland government thinks there is a problem? We sure hope so.

The Commission is the result of HB687 passed during the 2013 legislative session. As part of the Commission’s work it is holding public hearings around the state. Please attend one of the Public Hearings and bring your ideas on how to make shared parenting the norm in Maryland.

National Parents Organization of Maryland worked to pass this legislation to begin the process of bringing shared parenting to Maryland. Maryland need not lag behind other states. Please let us know if you will be attending one of these hearings.

Upcoming Public Hearings:

Harford County
November 7, 2013
Harford Community College

Baltimore City
November 14, 2013
Baltimore City Community College

Eastern Shore
November 21, 2013
Chesapeake College

Prince George's County
TBD

All Public Hearings are from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Please see the Commission Website for venue details.

Join us in making shared parenting the norm in Maryland. Attend a public hearing and let our legislators know what is really happening in family courts.

According to HB 687, “The Commission will study all aspects of child custody decision-making in Maryland, including the principles governing it, and current practice and processes. The study will encompass how to make child custody orders and modifications fairer, more uniform, and equitable; reduce litigation in child custody proceedings; promote and ensure children's continued relationships with both parents; and maximize involvement of both parents in a child's life. Further, the Commission will consider how the Court may mitigate adverse effects of child custody litigation, as well as the advantages, disadvantages, and impact on children of joint physical custody. In addition, the Commission is to evaluate the governing statutes in other states, and consider whether Maryland law needs a statute specific to child custody decisions.

“Other issues related to child custody to be considered by the Commission include: whether gender discrimination exists in custody decisions, and if so, how to address it; the role of case management systems; training programs currently available to judges; how domestic violence proceedings and interventions affect custody determinations; and whether language can be standardized for custody determinations. Finally, the Commission is to gather quantitative data on total number and disposition of contested custody cases, and the availability of pro bono legal resources to petitioners and respondents.”

The Commission on Child Custody Decision Making consists of:

Honorable Cynthia Callahan, Chair
Circuit Court for Montgomery County

Renee Bronfein Ades, Esq.
Law Offices of Renee Bronfein Ades, LLC

Honorable Shannon E. Avery
District Court for Baltimore City

Wayne Beckles
Dean, Baltimore City Community College

Paul C. Berman
Psychologist, Berman & Killeen, P.A.
102 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 306
Towson, MD 21204

Honorable Videtta A. Brown
Circuit Court for Baltimore City

Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais
Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan
and Hartinger, P.A.

Senator Jennie M. Forehand
Democrat, District 17, Montgomery County

Senator Joseph M. Getty
Republican, District 5 - Baltimore County
and Carroll County

Michele R. Harris, Esq.
The Law Offices of Michele R. Harris, LLC

Dorothy J. Lennig, Esq.
House of Ruth Maryland

David L. Levy, Esq.
Attorney

Delegate Susan K. McComas
Republican, District 35B, Harford County

Carlton E. Munson, Ph.D., LCSW-C
Professor
University of Maryland, Baltimore

Kathleen A. Nardella, Esq., LCSW-C
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and
Attorney

Laurence Anne Ruth
Attorney
Women's Law Center of Maryland, Inc.

Master Richard J. Sandy
Circuit Court for Frederick County

Keith N. Schiszik, Esq.
Attorney, Day & Schiszik

Lauren Young, Esq.
Maryland Disability Law Center

Vernon E. Wallace, Jr.
Program Manager
Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project

STAFF:
Connie Kratovil-Lavelle, Esq.
Executive Director
Department of Family Administration
Administrative Office of the Courts

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