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Family law is mainly governed by state statutes. In Maryland, the official source of the state statutes is the Annotated Code of Maryland. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the Annotated Code of Maryland in print.
Custody in Maryland is also controlled by federal law, which must be looked at first in deciding whether you can file for custody in Maryland (jurisdiction).
Maryland's Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act is Maryland's version of the uniform law of similar name. This is the law that determines when the Maryland courts have the power to hear and decide a child custody case (jurisdiction). This is the law that tells you whether Maryland is the "home state" for purposes of a child custody case.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 (PKPA) is a federal law that says the home state, or the state with child custody jurisdiction (power to hear and decide the case) is the only state that can decide the custody status of the child, and every other state is bound by the home state’s decision. This law prevents a parent who does not have legal custody from kidnapping their child from a state in hopes of winning legal custody in another state. This law does not apply to international cases.
The Maryland court rules applying in family law cases are found in Title 9 of the MD Rules. The print version of the court rules, like the print version of the statutes, has the advantage of providing summaries of cases that interpret the rules.
The five largest Circuit Court jurisdictions in Maryland (Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County) have Family Divisions that strive to provide a fair and efficient forum to resolve family legal matters in a problem-solving manner, with the goal of improving the lives of families and children who appear before the court. In Maryland's smaller cities and counties, Family Services Programs serve the same purposes. For more information on the Maryland Judiciary's Family Divisions and Family Services Programs, see the Maryland Judiciary Department of Family Administration home page.
The Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration makes regulations relating to the collection of child support. The Administration's regulations are published officially in Title 7, Subtitle 07 of COMAR (the Code of Maryland Administrative Regulations), the print version of which is available in all Maryland law libraries (list) and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR). The Administration's regulations are also available electronically on the Division of State Documents home page. For more information on researching Maryland administrative regulations, see Finding Regulations.
Because family law is largely a matter of statute, you will probably want to look for cases that interpret Maryland's family law statutes. The easiest way to do this is to find the statutes that apply to your situation in the Annotated Code of Maryland, then look at the case summaries that follow them. You can find additional cases by reading books that explain Maryland family law and noting the cases they cite. See "Resources for More Help" below for a list of books to get you started. Another method of finding cases is to search the Maryland Digest, which is a subject index to Maryland case law. The topics "Child Custody" and "Child Support" would be good places to start in the Maryland Digest.
The resources below may help you to understand Maryland family law. Keep in mind, however, that books that explain the law are no substitute for the law itself. You should always verify what the authors of these books say about the law by looking up the statutes, cases, and regulations the books cite. Some of these books may also include sample forms. For Maryland family law forms, use the official court self-help forms if they are available.
International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993: This international law imposes a fine and/or imprisonment to any parent who removes a child from the United States when they are unlawful in doing so. Therefore, a non-custodial parent who steals their child away from the custodial parent and takes the child outside of the United States may be criminally prosecuted. The choices that you have will depend on whether the other country involved has signed an international treaty called the "Hague Convention."
The primary source of information and help is:
Department of State, Office of Children's Issues
2201 C Street, NW
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
1-888-407-4747 (8 a.m. - 8 p.m.)
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”