I recently tried what started off as a fairly typical Maryland custody case that turned into a relocation case four months before the scheduled trial date. The decision still has not been rendered by the Court, but nevertheless thought the situation is one in which many folks find themselves and could relate. The basic sets of facts are as follows: parties meet, relationship of some sort ensued (depends on which party you ask) and a child was born. Parties lived together off and on (again, depending on which party you ask) and ultimately began living in their own residences separate from one another. Eventually, the child would generally spend most weekends and extended blocks of time with one parent and weekdays with the other. Although the weekday parent typically controlled when and how frequently the other parent would see the child. Eventually, the weekday parent filed for custody and child support and other parent filed a Counter-Complaint for Custody. The case moved through the litigation process as most cases do, but four months prior to the trial, the weekday parent gives notice through counsel that she will be relocating to another state, approximately 8.5 hours away. As a side note there was a Consent Protective Order in place (I did not represent my client at the time), whereby a child access schedule was put into place where the parties had joint custody and the Father had access three overnights the first week of the month, two overnights the second weekend of the month, and two overnights the third weekend of the month. The Mother had the remainder of the time.
As the Father’s attorney, upon notification of Mother’s intended move, I filed an Emergency Motion with the Circuit Court where the action was pending to prevent the removal of the minor child from the State. The Motion was denied and the parties were directed to follow the existing Order (the Protective Order). I filed a Motion for Reconsideration, it was again denied, and the parties were directed by the Court that the Protective Order controlled and access should continue in accordance therewith. Needless to say, Mother moved with the minor child and did not follow the Protective Order access schedule and a Petition for Contempt was filed (a hearing has still not been held by the Court). Father went for almost two months without seeing his child in accordance with the Protective Order schedule (with the exception of a few days over the Christmas holiday) when this case went to trial.
PART TWO coming soon