In any dispute or case regarding child custody and/or access, the first thing which must be determined is jurisdiction. The question of what state and county family law court has the appropriate jurisdiction over the parents and the child(ren) is resolved by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
If the children and parents reside in Washington County, be it Hagerstown or elsewhere, the Washington County Circuit Court is the appropriate Maryland Court. This becomes less clear where one parent lives in Boonsboro but the other parent has moved to West Virginia. What if one parent lives in Williamsport, Maryland with one child and the other parent has moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania with another child?
Child custody is almost always a state court decision. In 99.999 percent of all child custody and visitation cases the Federal Courts and Federal Statutes have little or no impact. State laws regarding custody vary a great deal. There are purportedly states where a child decides which parent he/she will live with after age 12 and a state which bars an award of custody to a parent who has committed adultery.
Maryland is not among the foregoing states, nor is Hagerstown and the Washington County Court system. Furthermore, at the time of this publication verification of these other states is not possible, however, the very rumor of such laws is an incentive for some parents to flee Washington County Maryland and seek out these unusual jurisdictions.
In the 1970s divorce became a growing component of our culture and with it came a growing problem of parental kidnapping. Parents faced with a divorce would remove their child(ren) from Washington County, Maryland where the family had traditionally resided in search of a jurisdiction which might be more favorable to that parent’s cause.
The nationwide response was the establishment and adoption of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and subsequently the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
In Washington County, Maryland these statutes are codified in Maryland Law under the Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Article Section 9.5 et seq.
Timothy Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place
301 865-1101 Call 24/7
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