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Removal Of A Child Subject To Maryland Visitation Rights

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When a child is subject to visitation rights in Maryland, relatives must honor any legally binding arrangement approved by the state courts. It is a criminal offense to remove such a child without express permission, even if it occurs for a short time within Maryland’s borders. Before delving into the specifics of removing a child subject to visitation rights, however, it will be helpful to review how Maryland defines the terms A lawful custodian and A relative.

Lawful Custodians & Relatives

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-301 defines who qualifies as a lawful custodian or relative in this context. Under this section, the term lawful custodian refers to any person authorized to have custody of and exert control over a child under 16 years old.

Section 9-301 also provides the definition of a relative, a term that refers to a person’s:

  • Parents;
  • Grandparents or other ancestors;
  • Brothers;
  • Sisters;
  • Aunts;
  • Uncles; and
  • Other individuals who previously served as a lawful custodian.

Maryland Jurisdiction

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-302 establishes when the state courts have jurisdiction over the removal of a child. The Maryland courts have jurisdiction over the visitation of a child removed from the state if:

  • One of the parents resided in Maryland when the child was removed; or
  • The parents are separated or divorced; and
  • Maryland was either the marital domicile or the last place where the marital contract was performed.

Prohibited Acts

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-304 and Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-305 prohibit certain acts concerning children subject to visitation rights. If a relative knows that a child has a lawful custodian, it is unlawful to:

  • Abduct, take, or carry away the child from the lawful custodian to another location;
  • Detain the child for more than 48 hours after receiving a demand to return the child;
  • Harbor or hide the child, knowing that another relative obtained unlawful control over the child; or
  • Act as an accessory to any of the actions above.

Criminal Penalties

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9-307 furnishes the penalties for removing a child subject to visitation rights. Under this section, the punishment for a violation depends largely on the nature of the underlying offense.

If a relative unlawfully removes a child subject to visitation rights, but stays within the boundaries of Maryland, it is a misdemeanor offense under Section 9-307. If convicted, the maximum punishment includes imprisonment for 30 days and criminal fines up to $250.

If a relative unlawfully removes a child subject to visitation rights, to another U.S. state for 30 days or less, it is a felony crime under Section 9-307. If convicted, the maximum punishment includes imprisonment for 12 months and criminal fines up to $1,000.

If a relative unlawfully removes a child subject to visitation rights, to another U.S. state for more than 30 days, it is a felony crime under Section 9-307. If convicted, the maximum punishment includes imprisonment for 36 months and criminal fines up to $2,500.

If a relative unlawfully removes a child subject to visitation rights, to another country outside of the United States or its territories, it is a felony crime under Section 9-307. If convicted, the maximum punishment includes imprisonment for 60 months and criminal fines up to $5,000.

Do You Need Legal Help?

The Bel Air child visitation attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family law. Reach out to us today for a consultation.

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