Articles Posted in Family Court Jurisdiction

Child custody cases’ resolutions are often the result of the specific facts unique to each case. In addition to being fact-intensive, these cases may also become very legally complicated when the residences of the family members involved span state lines. In one such case recently decided by the Maryland Court of Appeals, a Maryland father was unable to pursue a modification to his custody and visitation arrangement because the specific facts in his case indicated that the mother and children no longer had sufficient minimum contacts with Maryland, meaning that Maryland courts no longer had “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” over the case.

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A divorce case automatically becomes more complicated when the couple has children. Not only will the parties be expected to address and resolve issues of property division and spousal support, but also they will need to address the emotional and practical issues associated with parenting time and a child custody arrangement. The two most important matters to consider are legal and physical custody. In some unique cases, parents dispute the particular jurisdiction within which to resolve the dispute. In any divorce case, but especially one that involves children, the parties are encouraged to consult with an experienced Maryland family law attorney to be sure their family’s rights are adequately protected.

A recent Maryland divorce case illustrates how tricky a child custody matter can become once the parents begin disputing the jurisdiction of the court. The question centers on the court’s authority to entertain the issue of custody in the first instance. Here, while both parents are United States citizens, the mother is a native of Niger, and the father is a native of Senegal. The couple was living in Maryland when they got married in Niger while on vacation. Soon thereafter, the mother began working for the United Nations. The family moved to New York for her first assignment but maintained residences in Maryland to which they would travel every weekend.

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