Relocation and Interstate Child Custody Issues

Relocation and Interstate Child Custody IssuesCoparenting has its challenges, even when a divorce is amicable and the parenting plan is just. One of the more common challenges relates to parental relocation: what do you need to do if you or your spouse must move?

Under typical circumstances, if a parent wishes to move, that parent must provide written notice within 90 days of the move. It does not matter if the move is within Maryland or out-of-state; that notice must be provided for two reasons:

  1. The court always needs to have the most up-to-date information on record.
  2. The other parent must be given time to petition the court to block the move.

If Parent A wants to move, say, within a few blocks of where he is currently living, and the move would not affect the child custody order, then there should be no issues for either parent. What complicates matters is when Parent A wants to move from Oakland to Salisbury, or from Maryland to New Jersey (or California).

How courts in Maryland decide whether to allow relocation

Will the move affect the custody order?

The most important thing to remember is that all decisions about custody are made with the best interests of the children in mind. As such, moving across state lines or from one end of the state to another can create serious challenges when it comes to physical and legal custody, especially if it could affect the child’s schooling, medical care, or overall time with his or her parents. Other things the court will consider can include:

  • The fitness of the relocating parent
  • The age, health, and/or sex of the child
  • The wishes of the child
  • The opportunities for the child (i.e., access to schooling, healthcare, and family)
  • Any prior history of neglect or abandonment by the parent

There are exceptions to the 90-day notice rule. For example, if you suffer a financial emergency or believe that you are in immediate damager, the court may waive the notice. There may also be extenuating circumstances that force you to move within that 90-day window. If this is the case, you must show that you gave as much notice as you could once you were aware of the reduced timeframe.

Why is the parent moving?

If you are Parent A in this scenario, you will need to show why moving is in the best interest of your child and you. The most compelling arguments usually fall into one of our categories:

  1. You had an offer for new employment
  2. You remarried
  3. You have a medical condition or health need that is better served in another part of the state, or in another state entirely
  4. You want to move closer to your family/support system

If, for example, you have a job offer that will lead to a significant raise in salary and better health benefits, it is in your child’s best interest – and yours – that you be allowed to modify your custody order because of a move.

Special consideration for interstate custody orders

Understand that the custody order follows the laws of the state in which it is created. That means if you move to, say, Delaware, your child custody order is still going to follow Maryland’s laws, even though you now live in a different state.

Furthermore, it is critical that you go through the proper legal channels if you move out of state, or you could be held in contempt for violating an order, or even charged with parental kidnapping. Because you have crossed state lines, you could face federal charges if it appears to the government that you were attempting to abduct your own child.

The Fulton child custody lawyers at McCabe Russell, PA can help parents who are looking to modify their orders because they wish to relocate. We also represent parents who want to petition to have the relocation blocked because it would be in the best interest of their children. To learn more, please call us at 443-917-3347 or complete our contact form. We have additional offices in Bethesda, Rockville, and Columbia.