In 2014, a judge in Talbot County, Maryland, gave custody of a 14 year old girl to Mrs. Hostetter, writing in his memorandum opinion that as “an adolescent female, this may be the most important time in her life to have a solid relationship with her mother.”

What’s wrong with this decision? It ignores father’s rights.

Father’s Rights Matter

While the judge may have been correct about the importance of the mother-daughter relationship, he was wrong about the law.

In an unreported opinion in March of 2105, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the decision as contrary to state law and cases.

In 1974, Maryland abandoned by statute the maternal preference doctrine, under which father’s rights were ignored and children were presumed to belong with their mother.

And in 1998, the Maryland Court of Appeals, held that the state’s Equal Rights Amendment prohibits custody determinations based on gender.

The Maryland legislature is currently considering a bill that would create a rebuttable presumption in favor of joint physical custody.  Sponsors of the bill say such a presumption is necessary to prevent a latent preference by judges to award custody to mothers rather than fathers.

This would be an important recognition of father’s rights.

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