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2010 Holiday Disputes in Maryland Custody and Visitation Matters

With the holidays approaching many clients may be facing uncertainty or conflicts as to where their child(ren) will be spending the holiday. We always advise clients to plan holidays far in advance so a schedule can be arranged that is best for the child(ren). It is important to develop a schedule that is not too overwhelming for children, so they can enjoy the holiday without exchanges at inopportune times, such as midnight on Christmas Eve, or too many exchanges in one day. It is also important to remember not to make plans for your child(ren) on the holiday until you know what the schedule will be. Lastly, for your child’s sake, explain to them how the holiday schedule will go, do not seek their input or place a guilt trip on your child(ren) for not being with you for the holiday or a portion of the holiday, and be flexible and accommodating to making the holiday work for everyone. Everyone does include the other parent and his or her family.

If you are unable to reach a holiday arrangement with your child’s parent you may turn to what many practitioners refer to as “holiday court”. Most Circuit Courts throughout the State of Maryland implement a specific protocol for what is known as “holiday court,” or the process that takes place in order to resolve these holiday access disputes. We have collected information from the nearby Circuit Courts to find out how they will be handling this year’s holiday disputes.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court

The Anne Arundel County Circuit Court will have no set protocol to be followed for holiday disputes so all disputes should be submitted in the normal course of business.

Baltimore County Circuit Court

The family law Judges will be available to consider Christmas visitation disputes from Monday November 22, 2010 through Tuesday, December 21, 2010. All questions and disputes should be directed to Judge Martin’s chambers. When the case is assigned to a family Judge who will hear the holiday dispute, the party should contact the Judge’s chambers directly with the name and contact information for all parties involved, the last order regarding visitation, the details of any efforts to reach an agreement between the parties, what relief each party is requesting, and what each party is proposing for the holiday access schedule.

Baltimore City Circuit Court

Baltimore City Circuit Court is hearing holiday visitation issues on November 30, 2010 and December 16, 2010 in front of Master Kelly. All requests for a holiday visitation hearing should be filed with the clerk’s office with a copy sent to the Family Law Coordinator.

Howard County Circuit Court

Howard County Circuit Court will hold holiday court on December 10, 2010. All requests to be heard regarding holiday disputes must be submitted in writing by December 6, 2010 and the dispute must be in a matter that is already open with a case number in the Circuit Court for Howard County.

Harford County Circuit Court

Harford County Circuit Court will forward all pleadings involving holiday disputes to the Family Law Coordinator, who will set the dispute in for a hearing either before a Judge or Master.

If you have further questions regarding holiday visitation, an experienced Maryland custody attorney will be able to assist you.