The 2020 Legislative Session was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, some important legislation was passed with the help of WLC and its coalition partners. Read on for more information.

Despite the early closure of the Maryland Legislature this year due to COVID-19, there were some significant bills passed this session, including several that pertain to families and victims of sexual assault:

First, WLC and its coalition partners were successful in changing civil protective order law to clarify that victims of sexual assault qualify for protective orders, rather than peace orders (House Bill 248/Senate Bill 210). Many courts and judges were already using the protective order statute for these cases, although some were not; therefore, this law makes clear the remedies victims of sexual assault can seek. The protective order allows for a more robust, holistic approach from law enforcement, lasts longer than a peace order, and makes possible more thorough relief. This bill goes into effect on October 1, 2020.

Two bills addressing child support will alter the guidelines for Maryland families. First, House Bill 269/Senate Bill 579 changes the law with regard to which child support guidelines calculation is used, depending on how much time a child spends in either household. Under current law, if the “non-custodial parent” had the child for more than 128 nights, the shared custody calculation was used under the guidelines. This was called “the cliff.” Under the new law, the cliff becomes a slope, with new calculations beginning if the non-custodial parent has the child more than 92 nights. There are other provisions of this bill, such as defining “voluntary impoverishment.” This goes into effect October 1, 2020. Also effective October 1, 2021, the child support guidelines will be updated to reflect more recent costs of living.