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Out of State Child Custody in Maryland – Frequently Asked Questions

Child custody cases involving parties or children that are outside the state of Maryland can be confusing.  What court has jurisdiction over the child custody dispute and any matters arising in the future?  Maryland law resolves these issues, including implementation of the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

What is the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)?

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) applies in all states as well as the District of Columbia.  The Act prevents one parent from moving a child to another state for the purpose of relitigating child custody issues in that state’s court system.  This means that if both parents and the child reside in the state of Maryland and a Maryland court issues a custody order, one of the parties may not move the child to Virginia to attempt to have a new, more favorable custody order issued by a Virginia Court..

After a state exercises jurisdiction in a custody matter and decides any issues by entering a custody order, all states give the order full faith and credit by all states nationwide.  In other words, the courts in all states will recognize the validity of the child custody order.

The UCCJEA determines which state has jurisdiction over a child custody case when the child lives in a different state than one of the parents.  Courts must determine where the home state of the child is under the UCCJEA.  The UCCJEA provides the home state is where the child has lived for at least six months.

In the state of Maryland, Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-201 provides when the state has jurisdiction over a child custody matter.

Further, once a court has made an initial custody determination, that court retains the power to hold further hearings.

Are There Exceptions?

Exceptions do exist. If neither party or child reside in the original state, custody motions can be filed where the child now lives.  Additionally, the court in the original state may issue an order providing  it is no longer the appropriate court to hear a modification motions.  In the state of Maryland, this is codified in Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-202.

What Happens in an Emergency Custody Situation?

Pursuant to Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-204 a Maryland court may exercise emergency jurisdiction if the child is in the state of Maryland and has been abandoned or it is an emergency to protect a child because the child or a sibling or parent of the child is threatened with mistreatment or abuse.  The court may make a determination of child custody issues if it has jurisdiction.  If the court determines the child is subject to the jurisdiction of another court, it communicates with the other court.

May a Maryland Court Order the Appearance of a Child in a Child Custody Dispute?

A Maryland court may order the appearance of party in the state of Maryland involved in a child custody proceeding with or without the child pursuant to Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-210.

The statute also allows a court to order a party outside the state to appear with or without the child.  The court will inform the party a failure to appear may result in an adverse decision to the party.  The court may also require another party to, “pay reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses. . .”  Id.

Will a Maryland Court Recognize the Child Custody Determination of a Court of Another State?

Maryland courts will “recognize and enforce a child custody determination of a court of another state if the latter court exercised jurisdiction in substantial conformity with this title or the determination was made under factual circumstances meeting the jurisdictional standards of this title and the determination has not been modified in accordance with this title.”  Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-303.  This statute is in accordance with the UCCJEA, as described above.

When May a Maryland Court Issue a Temporary Order For Visitation?

Maryland courts may issue a temporary order enforcing a visitation order of another state.  They can also issue temporary orders if the prior order does not provide for a specific visitation schedule.   Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-304.  Such an order shall include a period of time sufficient to allow the petitioner to obtain an order from a court of appropriate jurisdiction.  The order remains in effect until the period expires or further order of that court.  Id.

Can One Register a Child Custody Determination From Outside the State of Maryland in the State of Maryland?

Pursuant to Maryland law:

(a)   A child custody determination issued by a court of another state may be registered in this State, with or without a simultaneous request for enforcement, by sending to the appropriate court in this State:

(1)   a letter or other document requesting registration;

(2)   two copies, including one certified copy, of the determination sought to be registered, and a statement under penalty of perjury that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration the order has not been modified; and

(3)   except as otherwise provided in § 9.5-209 of this title, the name and address of the person seeking registration and any parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or visitation in the child custody determination sought to be registered.

Maryland Family Law statute section 9.5-305.

Courts file these custody determinations as foreign judgments. Notice must be provided to appropriate parties.  Id.

What To Do If You Are Seeking Assistance With Child Custody Issues?

Child custody issues require an attorney experienced in family law.  The lawyers at Fait & DiLima have the experience to assist you with all your family law needs.  Whether you are seeking to modify or establish a child custody order, our lawyers can assist you with your needs.  For your convenience, we have offices in both Rockville and Fredrick, Maryland.

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