Know the Laws: Maryland
UPDATED December 4, 2015
This page includes information that is specific to this state, about parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful. Custody and kidnapping are particularly complicated and it is important to try to find an experienced lawyer to help you with your case.
If the judge determines that a party to a custody/visitation order has unreasonably denied or interfered with visitation granted by a custody or visitation order, the judge can take any or all of the following actions against the other parent:
* Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9-105
If you think the other parent may take your child out of state or somewhere else in the state in violation of your rights to custody or visitation under a court order, you can file a petition for contempt of court and demand the return of the child. If you do not have a custody order, you may want to go to court to file for temporary emergency custody – if the judge thinks that the child is in danger, you may be able to get an immediate custody order.
You may also want to contact the police. If the other parent has purposefully abducted a child from the lawful (legal) custodian, that parent may be guilty of a crime. According to MD’s parental kidnapping law, a person may not forcibly abduct, take, or carry away a child under the age of 16 years from the custody and control of the child's parent or legal guardian.* We strongly suggest that you try to consult with a lawyer to figure out if the other parent’s actions would be considered a violation of this law. Go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page for legal resources.
If a parent does abduct the child, s/he may be guilty of a felony and if convicted may be subject to imprisonment up to 1 year. If the child is kept for more than 30 days, s/he may be subject to imprisonment up to 3 years.**
If a parent abducts a child and takes him/her out of the country, the parent may be guilty of a felony and if convicted may be subject to imprisonment up to 5 years.**
* MD Code Family Law §9-304
** MD Code Family Law §9-307
A judge may grant temporary emergency custody in extreme situations. You will need to prove to the judge that your child is in immediate danger of abuse and that it is necessary to protect you and your child. A judge will only grant you temporary emergency custody if s/he thinks it is in the best interest of the child.* You may also be able to get temporary custody as part of a domestic violence protective order.**
* Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9.5-204
** See MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-504.1, 4-505, 4-506