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Legal Information: Maryland


November 27, 2023

If I fear the other parent may abduct my child, what can I do?

A judge on his or her own can include abduction prevention measures in a child custody proceeding if s/he believes that there is a risk of abduction of your child. Additionally, you can file a petition in court that specifically asks for abduction prevention measures.1 In the petition, you must state evidence of any of the following “risk factors for abduction” that apply,2 including whether the accused parent:

  1. has previously abducted, attempted to abduct, or threatened to abduct your child;
  2. has recently done actions that may indicate a planned abduction, including:
    • abandoning employment;
    • selling a primary residence;
    • terminating a lease;
    • closing a bank or other financial account, liquidating assets, hiding or destroying financial documents, or conducting any unusual financial activities;
    • applying for a passport, visa, or other travel documents for him/herself, a family member, or your child;
    • attempting to get your child’s birth certificate or school or medical records;
  3. has engaged in domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, or child neglect;
  4. has refused to follow a child custody order;
  5. lacks strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to Maryland or the United States;
  6. has strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to another state or country;
  7. is likely to take the child to a country that:
    • is not a party to the Hague Convention and does not provide for the extradition of an abducting parent or for the return of an abducted child; or
    • is a party to the Hague Convention but:
      • the Hague Convention is not in force between the United States and that country;
      • the country is noncompliant according to the most recent compliance report issued by the United States Department of State; or
      • the country lacks legal mechanisms for immediately and effectively enforcing a return order under the Hague Convention;
    • poses a risk that the child’s physical or emotional health or safety would be endangered in the other country because of specific circumstances relating to the child or because of human rights violations committed against children in that country;
    • has laws or practices that would:
      • allow the respondent to prevent you from contacting the child;
      • restrict you from freely traveling to or exiting from the other country because of your gender, nationality, marital status, or religion; or
      • restrict the child’s ability legally to leave the other country after your child becomes an adult because of the child’s gender, nationality, or religion;
    • is included by the United States Department of State on a current list of state sponsors of terrorism;
    • does not have an official United States diplomatic presence in the country; or
    • is engaged in active military action or war, including a civil war, to which the child may be exposed;
  8. is undergoing a change in immigration or citizenship status that would negatively affect the other parent’s ability to remain in the United States legally;
  9. has had an application for United States citizenship denied;
  10. has forged or presented misleading or false evidence on government forms or supporting documents to obtain or attempt to obtain a passport, a visa, travel documents, a Social Security card, a driver’s license, or any other government-issued identification card, or has made a misrepresentation to the United States government;
  11. has used multiple names to attempt to mislead or defraud; or
  12. has engaged in any other conduct the judge considers relevant to the risk of abduction.3

1 Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9.7-104(a), (b)
2 Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9.7-106(a)(2)
3 Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9.7-107(a)