Custody Spotlight: Monroe v. Monroe
In Monroe v. Monroe, Maryland's highest court cautioned trial courts to take an independent analysis of a parent's stance during hotly-contested custody proceedings, and make independent findings of what is in a child's best interest. 329 Md. 758, 772-73 (1993).
During December 2019, I cited this case at the Circuit Court of Maryland, as a helpful reminder for the Court to give the other side's allegations in a hotly contested matter a hard look. Sometimes it is helpful to point out, at Court, when non-routine litigation arrives among the usual daily docket.
In Monroe, a couple in a relationship helped raise the mother's young daughter and got married to boot. However, the marriage only lasted a few years. During this time, the married couple treated the daughter as both of theirs, but they both likely knew otherwise. In the divorce and custody proceeding, the mother sought sole custody. So, of course, she sought to prove her husband was not the actual father, and should not have any custody rights, especially under Maryland law in the early 1990s. The Court of Appeals, reviewing this trial, remanded it for further trial consideration of what was in the child's best interest for custody among (1) a father, not by blood, whom she knew as her father and who acted as a good father, and (2) a mother, by both blood and known good conduct. See Monroe, 329 Md. at 769-78.
Monroe discusses a number of aspects of a custody proceeding, of course. As part of its analysis, Maryland's Court of Appeals cautioned trial courts against assuming parents seek solely their child's best interest during litigation. 329 Md. at 772-73 ("the petitions interest in obtaining sole custody must be considered and balanced.").
Generally speaking, parents do advance their children's interest, an assumption that exists in Maryland common law. A lawsuit, however, can be difficult, and engender less than the best of a person. Monroe addresses this complex presumption. See id.; accord Auclair v. Auclair, 127 Md. App. 1, 14-15 (1998) (discussing B.I.A.s in the context of custody proceedings).
Monroe v. Monroe protects those parents subject to overblown allegations at Court, by reminding Courts to give sharp pleadings and allegations a hard look.
Gregg H. Mosson, Esq.
Mosson Law, LLC
Mosson Law, LLC, represents parents in custody and divorce disputes, and employees in employee rights matters, including owed wages, FMLA, ADA, retaliation, and discrimination claims.