De Facto Parentage and Grandparent Visitation and Custody
Maryland did not recognize de facto parentage (“parentage or parents in fact”) as a legal status until July 2016. Natural parents had a presumptive right to custody. Since July 2016, Conover v. Conover, 450 Md. 51 (2016), a case involving a same sex marriage has established de facto parental rights in Maryland. De Facto parents can be considered parents regarding custody under a normal best interest of the child standard.
To be considered a de facto parent, one must meet a four-prong test:
- The legal or natural parent must have consented to and fostered the relationship between the third-party and the child;
- the third party must have lived with the child in the same household;
- the third party must perform parental functions for the child to a significant degree, including a significant responsibility for the child’s care, education and development, including contributing towards the child’s support, without expectation of financial compensation; and
- and a parent-child bond must be formed.
Grandparents can be awarded visitation in Maryland. Grandparents can also obtain custody. However, to obtain custody grandparents must show parental unfitness of the legal parents or extraordinary circumstances exist to overcome the presumption of custodial rights belonging to the natural or legal parents unless they can meet the four-prong de facto test.