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How does a parent’s relocation affect custody in Maryland?

Divorce or separation often leads to many changes in the lives of many minor children. They often find themselves travelers constantly moving between homes.

When one parent decides to relocate, it can introduce even more changes. One area that may change as a result of a move is the custody arrangement.

Current agreement

When a parent decides to move, the first step is generally to review the existing custody agreement. Most such agreements outline the geographical area where the custodial parent can live without requiring permission from the other parent or the court. If the move falls within this defined area, there may be little to no impact on custody.

For parents with joint custody arrangements, moving far away can complicate matters. It may affect the ability to maintain the current visitation schedule, especially if the distance between parents’ homes makes regular visits challenging. In such cases, parents might need to reevaluate and modify the visitation plan to accommodate the new living arrangements.

Court intervention

Parents generally negotiate with each other to find a peaceable solution, but this is not always possible. Maryland courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. If a parent’s move significantly disrupts the child’s everyday routine, education or social life and the parents cannot resolve the issue, the court may intervene. For instance, if the custody agreement has the child staying with the moving parent every other week, but the parent moves to a place too far away to easily commute back to school, the court may change the existing arrangement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2021 divorce rate was almost three out of every 1,000 people. Divorce introduces change to children’s lives, but custody agreements help put in place a regular system of visitation.

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