Maryland instituted a rule that requires parents in litigation for custody of their children that do not have a comprehensive parenting plan to file a Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Decision-Making Authority and Parenting Time ("Joint Parenting Statement"). The rule became effective on January 1, 2020, and is codified as Maryland Rule 9-204.2.
The purpose of the Joint Parenting Statement is to identify points the parties have agreed to and do not agree regarding decision making authority and shared parenting time of the children including legal custody and shared time between each parent, holiday access between each parent, child care, transportation, communication between the parents and the child, and other issues . If the parties have not agreed on certain issues then they may also share their proposal to the other party for resolving the issue.
The rule has specific deadlines that the parties are to follow when preparing and filing a Joint Parenting Statement, including that it be filed at least ten (10) days prior to a settlement conference or if no settlement conference is scheduled, then twenty (20) days before the scheduled trial date or any date provided by the court. The Plaintiff must prepare the first draft and forward to Defendant, prior to filing. Generally and often described in a Scheduling Order, the courts will identify the date for when Joint Parenting Statement must be filed.
If a party willfully fails to comply with the rule then it could result in sanctions to the noncomplying party.