Use the courts to your advantage in child custody disputes

As previously discussed in an earlier blog post, an increasing number of unmarried couples are deciding to have children together. The previous blog post talked about the necessity of establishing the paternity of a child, especially because both parents may later decide to split and go their separate ways. In such a scenario the children’s custody is placed in jeopardy because there has been no court order establishing sole or joint custody.

Sometimes because a formal decision has not yet been rendered there is confusion between the parents as to their rights regarding child custody. Imagine if one parent decided to leave Maryland with the children and move to another state without as much as saying goodbye to the other parent. Which parent should have the legal right to the children’s custody, and furthermore, which state should have jurisdiction over the children to render decisions involving custody matters?

Due to unusual circumstances such as the one just described, the federal government enacted a law known as the The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the Act). The Act was created to resolve such jurisdictional conflicts in child custody cases.

Essentially what the Act said is that the children’s “home state,” or where they have been living since their birth, should have exclusive jurisdiction over the children. After children are six months old then their “home state” would become any state in which the children had lived for six consecutive months prior to the start of any court proceedings.

There are two exceptions to the “home state” jurisdiction provision of the Act. One of those exceptions is when the children’s home state has declined to exercise its jurisdiction. Another exception is when the children are in a state not yet considered their “home state,” but they have been either abandoned, or in need of protection due to domestic violence-related concerns.

Maryland parents facing complicated child custody matters should know that there are laws which provide parents seeking custody ways to ensure that your children’s best interests will be preserved.

Our firm has been representing Maryland clients since 1992. In over 20 years we have handled just about every type of child custody issue, including cases involving parents who wish to relocate out-of-state. Although no outcome can be guaranteed, we promise to work hard to achieve the most favorable outcome for you and your children.

Source: The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, “Family law issues for unmarried Maryland couples with children” Sep. 04, 2014