Parental Rights in Maryland

Maryland Parental Rights News

Urgent: MD Parental Rights Bill Heading to Committee

March 10, 2023

Maryland SB566, Family Law—Fundamental Parental Rights, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee this Wednesday, March 15, at 1:00pm. Parental Rights Foundation president Will Estrada plans to be on hand to testify, but we also need your help. This bill guarantees that “[a] parent has the fundamental right to direct the…

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Maryland State Law and Parental Rights

At Risk

Maryland does not have a state statute that explicitly defines and protects parental rights as fundamental rights.

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Maryland Courts and Parental Rights

"Strict Scrutiny" Applied to Parental Rights

  • McDermott v. Dougherty, 869 A.2d 751, 808-9 (Md. 2005) Adopted a balancing test where "the constitutional right [of parents] is the ultimate determinative factor; and only if the parents are unfit or extraordinary circumstances exist is the 'best interest of the child' test to be considered."
  • Koshko v. Haining, 921 A.2d 171, 186-87 (Md. 2007) held that because "the grant or modification of visitation involves a lesser degree of intrusion on the fundamental right to parent than the assignment of custody," such grants or modifications "require rigorous scrutiny," id. at 186; notwithstanding Troxel, the court noted that it typically "reserve[es] strict scrutiny review only for cases where fundamental rights have suffered "significant interference," but because there was "significant interference" with a fundamental right in this particular case, the court employed strict scrutiny, (id. at 187.)

However, this precedent is subject to change.