Can I Take the Kids Out of State During My Maryland/D.C. Divorce?

boy with suitcase and backpack in airport

Yes, but you may need the consent of your spouse and maybe the Maryland or District of Columbia divorce court. If you need permission from the divorce court, be sure to plan ahead. It may take several weeks to obtain approval.

Why would I need approval from the court?

Well, when a divorce is filed, in a manner of speaking, the divorce court “takes control” over the family. At a minimum, the court wants to keep the proceedings as calm as possible and to “keep the status quo” with respect to financial and child-related matters. Thus, in general, it is often a good idea to keep the court informed of matters like taking the children out of state while the divorce is pending.

Further, when a divorce is filed in Maryland or the District of Columbia, the divorce court judge will issue what is often called a temporary restraining order. In many cases, these are issued automatically and contain the same language for every divorce. Many restraining orders will have provisions related to the children (applicable only if there are children). The Order might specify that the children cannot be taken out of state, or the Order might have more general language about vacations or travel. To know if you can take the kids out of State while the divorce is pending, the first step is to read any temporary restraining order that might have been issued.

Since there can be some risk in trying to understand a court order, consulting with an experienced Maryland/D.C. divorce attorney can help avoid a careless mistake and determine what is the best course of action to take. The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl are here for you and ready to help. 

First, if there is a temporary restraining Order issued by the divorce court, the Order may specify that consent is required. Thus, you should obtain consent if the court has ordered it.

Even if spousal consent is not required by the divorce court, there are several good reasons for obtaining consent anyway. First, obtaining consent eliminates friction and divisiveness that can make divorce proceedings difficult. As noted, Maryland/D.C. divorce courts want to keep the proceedings as calm as possible.

Second, obtaining consent is an important method of preventing any anxiety, panic, or fear on the part of your spouse or the court. You do not want to “just leave” with the kids without anyone knowing what has happened. Without knowing what has happened, the other spouse may conclude that you have kidnapped the kids or something else of a criminal nature. This can lead to dangerous interactions with law enforcement and, most certainly, will displease the court.

Finally, obtaining your spouse’s consent will be a “point” in your favor when the divorce court begins to evaluate questions of child custody and related matters. Your spouse has a similar incentive to agree to a reasonable travel/trip out of State. Neither you nor your spouse want to appear unreasonable to the court. Obtaining a spouse’s consent is one method of “keeping the court happy” and also shows the court that the spouses can cooperate with respect to issues related to the children.

Temporary travel vs. permanent relocation

It should be noted that this article discussed a temporary visit or travel out of State. The divorce court’s approval will certainly be necessary for any sort of effort to relocate the child/children permanently out of State.

Maryland And D.C. Family Law Attorneys

Contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl for more information. We have the skills and expertise you need. We have proven experience with family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD, and Washington, DC.

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