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Considering relocation when child custody is involved

Divorce is always a trying time for children. Many times divorcing spouses with children behave in a manner calculated to cause consternation towards the adverse party. Perhaps one of the most egregious forms of this behavior is when one parent unilaterally decides to take child and relocate to another state. Such a move is not advised because relocation of a child without first taking the proper legal steps can actually reverse the primary custody arrangement.

Maryland law already provides a remedy for parents seeking to relocate to another state. However, it is important to know that the court will look at many factors before issuing a determination. The following are some examples of things the court will consider when making its determination:

-- Has the custodial parent given the court and the other parent at least 90 days advance notice of the proposed move?

-- Has the responding parent filed their response to the relocation notice within 20 days, thus necessitating an expedited hearing?

-- Is there some compelling reason for the custodial parent to relocate with the child to another state? For example, is there a better job or is the parent moving the child close to his or her grandparents.

-- Are there better schools for the child in the area the parent wishes to relocate?

-- Will the move create such a hardship on the non-custodial parent to visit the child that it has the potential to diminish their parent-child relationship?

A custodial parent who wishes to relocate with the child should consult with their attorney regarding the best way to prepare their notice and petition in a way which portrays them in the most favorable light. For example, the parents seeking a child custody relocation should gather all evidence which supports the rationale for the move, and diminishes the counter argument that the move would be detrimental to the other parent.

Source: womenslaw.org, "§ 9-106. Notice of intent to relocate" Jul. 30, 2014

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