Creating a Parenting Plan in Maryland

Courts consider the best interests of children to be of paramount importance in Maryland divorce cases. The Maryland Rules now require a parenting plan to be created by both parents, with a joint statement being submitted prior to a trial. While this may seem like an onerous task, this requirement is actually beneficial for all parties involved. The creation of the joint statement also enables the parents to determine what they agree upon and what remains at issue. If the parents are able to resolve their differences, the parenting plan provides parents and children alike with a roadmap for predictability, stability, and amicability. In addition to protecting the emotional well-being of family members, this requirement also saves time and money by keeping potentially contested child-related matters out of court. Litigation, particularly involving children, can wreak havoc upon a family system and cause damaging disruptions and delays in a child’s upbringing.


What Does a Parenting Plan Include?

The parenting plan requires parents or guardians of minor children to agree on topics including:

  • Medical and academic decision making
  • Methods of communication between parents/guardians
  • Communication between parents and the child
  • Extracurricular priorities and expenses
  • Transportation
  • Childcare
  • Involvement of extended family members
  • Holiday and vacation schedules
  • How special needs of the child, if any, will be met
  • How much parental information to share with the child at varying stages of life
  • How possible changes in work schedules will be handled
  • Religious affiliations
  • How potential future disagreements will be decided/mediated


What Are the Benefits of a Parenting Plan?

As we all know, each person’s priorities are highly individual and figuring out how to make sure both parties feel satisfied is a delicate balancing act. Creating a parenting plan allows both parties to communicate and discuss their unique needs and wants in a controlled, cooperative manner. By hashing out these issues in intricate detail up front, co-parents can set mutually agreed-upon expectations with one another and avoid future conflicts.

This very process of working on a parenting plan and trying to find the best outcome for a child can be productive. “Teaching” parents or guardians early on how to put the child’s interests before their own is a major benefit of Maryland’s requirement. Acquiring this skill and putting it into practice is just as important to ensuring co-parenting success as the final agreement itself.

Once the parents/guardians agree upon a parenting plan, it is submitted to the court for approval. The court will review it with a keen eye toward meeting the needs and best interests of the child. If deemed acceptable to the court, the parenting plan will be incorporated into a court order and its terms will become legally enforceable.


What Happens if We Cannot Agree on a Parenting Plan?

If a comprehensive parenting plan cannot be agreed upon, the parties will submit a form to the court known as a Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Decision-Making Authority and Parenting Time (Md. Rule 9-204.2). This document should detail which aspects of the plan have been agreed upon and those that remain in dispute. All outstanding issues will then be in the hands of a judge to decide and resolve.

Leaving critical matters up to the discretion of an unknown court official is not ideal for several reasons. The process of going to court does not come without delays, expenses, and invasions of privacy. Before filing the Joint Statement and invoking the court’s decision-making powers, parties are best served by hiring a lawyer/mediator to help them reach a consensus on any disputed terms. The more knowledgeable your attorney is about typical parenting problems that can arise in the aftermath of a divorce, the more likely you are to avoid collateral harm to your child down the line. The lawyers at TNS offer deep expertise and care in matters affecting children and are available to discuss your parenting plan goals and concerns.

If you have questions about how to create a co-parenting plan, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
Co-parenting During the Holiday Season
Can I Revise My Divorce Agreement Post-Divorce?
Maryland Child Custody Laws
Child Support in Maryland
Can I Expedite a Change in Custody if I Fear My Child Is in Danger?

Office Location
Quick Contact
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.