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How to Get Custody of a Child When the Other Parent Leaves the State With the Child

All states in the United States of America follow the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Each state has its own version of this law codified in its own statutes.

In the State of Maryland, this act is found in Family Law Article Section 9.5-201, initial state child custody law. This law provides that:

  1. Except as otherwise provided in Section 9.5-204 of this subtitle, a court of this State has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if:

    1. this State is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State;

    2. a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under item (1) of this subsection, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this State is the more appropriate forum under Section 9.5-207 or Section 9.5-208 of this subtitle.

In essence, if you have had primary physical custody of your child/children for more than 6 months prior to the other parent taking the child/children out of the current state, then you have the right to file for custody in your current state to ultimately attempt to force the other parent to return the child. If the other parent attempts to file for custody in another state, you first must file in your home state and then hire an attorney in the other state to file a motion under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to have the custody case in the other state dismissed. Or in the alternative to request a conference between your home state and the other state to determine which state has jurisdiction over the custody of your child/children.

This situation can be stressful and it is strongly advised to contact an attorney to help you navigate through this process.


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