Maryland Child Relocation Laws
When a custodial parent wants to move far enough away from their co-parent that child visitation becomes difficult or impossible, what recourse does the non-moving parent have? While parents may have personal agendas for moving or trying to keep another parent from relocating, the court ultimately bases its decision about a proposed move on the best interest of the child.
The following is an overview of Maryland’s child relocation laws, including the state’s best interest standard for child custody orders and the legal requirements for a child custody modification. If you need case-specific advice, seek the assistance of an experienced Maryland child custody attorney.
Providing Notice to the Court and the Co-Parent
Parents may relocate with the permission of their co-parent or a court order. Getting permission or a court order starts with providing written notice to both the court and the co-parent of any intended move at least ninety days before relocation.
Notice typically includes:
- The new address;
- The new phone number; and
- The reason for the move.
The relocating parent must send the co-parent notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. There are exceptions to these notice requirements when:
- Providing notice of relocation would expose the moving parent or their child to abuse;
- Financial reasons necessitate a shorter notice; and
- There are other extenuating circumstances.
Where there are extenuating circumstances, the court will ask the relocating parent to provide as much notice as possible.
The Co-Parent May Agree or Object to the Proposed Move
Once the co-parent receives notice of the proposed move, they have twenty days to agree or object to the move. If they agree, the co-parent may submit any written terms of a relocation agreement to the court. Otherwise, the co-parent must file a petition with the court objecting to the move.
Upon receiving the petition, the court will set an expedited hearing date to listen to testimony and review evidence from both parents.
The Best Interest of the Child
The court will only permit a relocation if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.
The following factors are used by the court when determining the best interest of the child in a relocation matter:
- The age of the child;
- The gender of the child;
- The physical and mental health of the child;
- The emotional stability of the child;
- The physical, mental, and emotional fitness of each parent;
- The character and reputation of each parent;
- The child’s preferences and desires, if they are old enough and capable of making such decisions;
- The court proposed distance and its effect on child visitation; and
- Benefits the move will have on the child.
The court will weigh the positive aspects of the proposed relocation against any decreased or substantially modified visitation with the co-parent to decide if moving is in the best interest of the child.
Moving Without the Court’s Permission
A custodial parent who relocates without an order of the court or an agreed order could face severe criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. They could also lose custody of any minor children to their co-parent due to their actions.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Child Relocation Attorney Today
If you are considering moving with your child or have received notice of a proposed move, reach out to an experienced child relocation attorney at Shah & Kishore. Maryland has specific laws that must be followed before a custodial parent can move within the state or outside of its borders.
It is vital you know and exercise your rights to be with your child, whether you are the moving parent or co-parent with visitation. Act quickly as time is of the essence in relocation cases. Contact a skilled attorney at Shah & Kishore to schedule your consultation today.