Can a child decide where to live?

Under Maryland law, a minor child who is 16 years old or older may petition the Court, on their own, to change an existing custody order.

After a hearing, the Court may modify the existing custody order if the Court finds the modification to be in the child’s best interest.

The Court is not obligated to follow the desires of a child who petitions the Court, but will do so in many cases if it finds the child’s basis for seeking a change in custody to be reasonable.

For a child under age 16 who has strong feelings about custody, a Judge or Master may interview the child in chambers (outside of the Courtroom) regarding their desires and concerns. Unless waived, the Court must make a record of the interview for the parents.

In custody cases, calling a child to testify as a witness is extremely discouraged by the Court and may reflect negatively on the fitness of the parent seeking to have the child testify.