Many life circumstances can cause a person to want to move, such as a new job opportunity, a new love interest, or the need for new surroundings after a nasty divorce. Moving, however, is not always as simple as pick up and go. There are some special considerations and actions people need to take before moving out of state if they have an existing child custody arrangement they need to follow. Failure to do so could lead to unwanted consequences.
The Relocation Process
When someone wants to move out of state despite their existing custody order, the following conditions need to be met:
- Notice of Intent: Maryland courts can legally require each party in a custody order to provide up to 90 days’ notice when they want to move out of state. The notice of intent should include why the person is looking to move as well as where they intend to move to.
- Agreement From Other Party: Once the party that intends to move has provided the courts and the other parent with a notice of intent, they need to show to the court that the other party is okay with them moving. The other party can submit an agreement directly to the court. If the other party files an objection to the move within a 20-day period, the court will file a hearing to discuss the issue and come to a conclusion.
- The Court’s Decision: If the issue of the move makes it to the Maryland family courts, the judge presiding over the case will take several factors into account when deciding if the move can occur. Once the decision is made, the judge will issue a revised order that the parents will be legally bound by.
What Does the Court Consider?
The focus of the family court in relocation cases is to ensure that the move would be in the best interests of the child or children the custody order pertains to. A court hearing allows both parents the opportunity to express what they feel will be best for the child, but ultimately, the court has the final say. Some of the elements the court will consider when determining if a move is in the best interests of the child include:
- The ability of each parent to take care of the child
- The wishes of the child if the child is old enough to reasonable express their wishes
- The child’s health, age, and gender
- The child’s physical and emotional well-being
- If the move will interfere with the other parent’s visitation, and if that is the intent of the move
- The quality of the relationships between the child and each parent
- If there is a history of domestic abuse or violence for either parent
- Any previous custody or visitation agreements
Impact on Child Support
If the parent moving out of state is not the parent the child lives with most of the time, known as the noncustodial parent, it may affect child support payments. The Maryland Child Support Administration will reach out to the appropriate parties in the parent’s new state for assistance collecting child support payments. Moving does not absolve a parent of financial responsibility to their child.
What If I Relocate Without Informing Anyone?
It may be tempting to move without completing the necessary steps due to the time they may take, an urgent work matter, et cetera. However, failing to inform the necessary parties and create a new visitation plan could result in criminal charges. Maryland does not allow parents to move out of state without approval from the court that issued their existing custody arrangement and doing so could result in fines or jail time. The party in question could be held responsible for the consequences of violating a custody arrangement.
However, there are certain situations in which the court may waive the 90-day notice requirement. If someone moves out of state because they are fleeing abuse or have what the court considers to be a “good cause,” they may not face consequences. An experienced lawyer can help someone demonstrate good cause to the courts.
We Can Assist You
If you have an existing custody arrangement and plan to move out of state, or if the person you share a child with plans to move out of state, we can help make sure the process is completed correctly. Our goal is to ensure that you tie all the loose ends associated with moving out of state to avoid consequences later on. We communicate openly with our clients and remain accessible to them to ensure the most positive outcome for their unique situation. Contact the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis at (410) 593-0040 or online for a free consultation today.