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Relocating With Children After a Divorce

A divorce is often the catalyst for other big life changes. People go back to school or change jobs. They begin a new relationship or marry again. They decide to move. Getting the opportunity to make a new start is great, but if children are involved, the state of Maryland expects you to abide by the terms of your child custody and visitation agreements. Any major changes, especially relocation, must be approved by the court.

The ramifications of one parent moving post-divorce depend on the relationship the child has with each parent, what custody and visitation arrangements are in place and whether both parents are in agreement about the move. Even if they are, the court wants to ensure that the child maintains a relationship with both parents, and, in some cases, with their extended family.  

You should give adequate notice before requesting approval for a move. Expect the family court representative to ask detailed questions about the:

  • Reason for the move
  • Social, emotional and psychological impact of the move on the child
  • Ability of the noncustodial co-parent to maintain regular contact

If there is any indication that the custodial parent is moving out of the area or the state in order to prevent the non-custodial parent from visiting the child, the court may revisit the whole issue of custody. If the non-custodial parent has the resources to travel, the court may consider the move a reasonable request, as long as there is evidence that the move can provide the child with advantageous educational and social opportunities.

Maryland family court has a strong mandate to protect the best interests of the children after a divorce, so discuss your plans to relocate with your divorce attorney before you accept that job offer or put your house on the market.

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