Oftentimes, following a decision in a custody case, the parent with custody will seek to move out-of-state with the children. Such a move, of course, raises a big issue for the non-custodial parent as the move may significantly hinder or restrict their ability to see their children. What was weekly visitation may be transformed to sporadic visitation over school holidays and a move out of state may dramatically alter the relationship of the non-custodial parent with his or her children.
Effective October 1, 2009, the Maryland legislature amended Family Law Article section 9-106 to provide that a Court may include in a custody or visitation order a provision requiring the custodial parent to provide the non-custodial parent with 90 days notice if they intend to relocate with the minor children out-of-state. Prior law required only 45 days notice.
The out-of-state move constiutes a "change in circumstances" and allows the non-custodial parent to seek a change in custody by filing a petition to modify custody with the Court. Basically, after the filing of such a petition, the Court will re-examine the issue of custody and determine whether it is in the children's best interests to relocate with the custodial parent. If the Court finds that relocation is not in their best interests, it can order a change in custody which essentially prevents the custodial parent from leaving Maryland with the children. Stability in the children's lives is an important factor which the Court considers in relocation cases. Readers interested in this issue should review the case of Domingues v. Johnson, 323 Md. 486 (1991) and Braun v. Headley, 131 Md. App. 588 (1999).
If you have a child custody relocation issue, please feel free to call my offices for a free consultation regarding this issue. My office number is (301) 519-1505.