One of the most important factors in a parent’s ability to maintain a bonded relationship with their child, and to have a consistent, reliable presence in their life, is their geographic location. When the custodial parent decides that they want to move, Maryland law has a process that they must follow prior to doing so. The custodial parent, however, should take into consideration the impact that the move will have on the child.
Considering the child’s perspective on moving away
While children are quite resilient and adaptable, they do need stability. Children thrive when they have a safe, secure and stable foundation at home. The court will ask many questions about the move to try and determine if the move is being undertaken in the best interest of the child. If the move is for a new, better paying, more stable job, then the judge may rule that it will improve many aspects of the child’s life. If, however, the custodial parent wants to move 500 miles away to be closer to their new love interest, and the child must leave their familiar surroundings of home, school, friends and recreational opportunities, the move is likely not in the best interest of the child.
Legal requirements for relocation after Maryland divorce
The parent who has primary residential custody of the child may be required to give the court and the other parent at least 90 days written notice of their intent to move. This notice requirement is waived if the parent requesting the move can show the court that providing the notice would expose the child or party to abuse, or if they can show any other good cause. If a party is required to move in less than 90 days, they need to show that the move is required for financial or other extenuating circumstances, and that they gave notice in as reasonable amount of time as possible after learning that they had to relocate. The court may use any violation of the notice requirement as a factor in future custody proceedings. (MD FL §9–106)
What if you are opposed to the relocation?
If your former spouse is the one who has filed the notice to relocate, you do have the right to object. You should know, however, that Maryland places “the burden on the opposing parent to show that the move constitutes a change in circumstances triggering a modification hearing. If established, the court then addresses the child’s best interests.” This can pose a particular problem for military families, where one half of the couple is relocated to another base within the country.
Balancing the best interests of your child with your own needs and life challenges can be difficult. At Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, we guide you through the difficulties deciding child custody and adjusting to co-parenting after divorce. We invite you to complete our contact form or call us at 410.921.2422 to schedule a consultation. Our skilled Annapolis child custody attorneys are here to protect your rights and guide you through resolving disputes