Gaithersburg, MD asked in Family Law for Maryland

Q: Is there a Rule on a default expiration for Court Orders in family law, when a child is 18, sans a motion by the parties

There is Court Order of Consent between the parties prior to the kids reaching the age of 18. I was order to pay child support. To stop paying child support, I motioned to the Court that the child was 18 and no longer needed financial support. It was granted. However, there are other clauses in the Consent Order, with each clause (paragraph) begins with the word "ORDERED." And each paragraph ends with "; and it is further" For example,

ORDERED, the parties shall consult with each other in the general welfare of the children, including educational, medical, and social activities; and it is further

Neither of the parties file a motion to end the Consent. Is this consent order still valid?

I ask because, I recently discovered that the Mother intentionally hid and did not inform me that my daughter spent two weeks in a mental ward prior to the age of 18. I was never informed that she was hospitalized. Using this consent order, I want to petition the court for contempt.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: If your daughter is over 18 now, in the absence of any agreed terms that specifically continue past the age of 18 (such as an agreement to share health insurance costs to a certain age, college tuition, etc.), then the obligations end at 18 insofar as your child goes. A lawyer would have to review the order, however, to be sure exactly what was agreed to by the parties and put into the order. Any obligation that was in effect under the order can be enforced, if the obligation

arose before the child turned 18, regardless of the fact that the child has since turned 18 in the interim. However, in the example you give, it is unclear what relief the court can grant you. You are not entitled to general compensatory montary damages for a violation of the consent order to inform you of your daughter's medical/mental health treatment, and now that your daughter is over 18, there is no continuing obligation to enforce going forward. Typically, when such a violation happens while the child is under 18, a parent will file to obtain a court order compelling the other parent to comply, and to comply going forward, with the potential of a change in custody or visitation in the event the noncompliant parent fails to adhere to the consent order, plus an award of attorney's fees for the cost incurred by the other parent to enforce the order. In your case, there is no longer a continuing obligation to involve you in your adult child's major decisions. There is no longer an order or conduct to enforce, in other words. I do not know that court would entertain a motion solely for the academic purpose of a finding of contempt, and an award of attorney's fees to make that finding, when there is no current violation or continuing conduct that requires enforcement. The issue would appear to be moot.

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