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Legal Information: Maryland

Maryland Parental Kidnapping

Laws current as of
November 27, 2023

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.

What can the court do if the other parent denies or interferes with my visitation or custody rights?

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:

  • order that the visitation be rescheduled;
  • change the conditions of the visitation or custody order to make sure that the other parent obeys the order;
  • make the parent who denied or interfered with the visitation rights pay court costs or attorney’s fees of the other parent.1

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 9-105

If I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?

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 Maryland’s parental kidnapping law, a person may not abduct, take, or carry away a child under the age of 16 years from the custody and control of the child’s “lawful custodian.”1 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.

The penalties for parental kidnapping are different based on how long the child is kept away and whether the child is moved within the state or out of state or country. Go to our Selected Maryland Statutes page to read more about penalties for parental kidnapping.

1 MD Code, Family Law § 9-304
2 MD Code, Family Law § 9-307