Where can I file for custody?

Generally, a custody action should be filed in the “home state” of the child.

The “home state” of a child is where the child has resided with a parent or guardian for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before filing the custody action.

For example, assume the child resided in Maryland with one parent for more than 6 months before the other parent moved the child to Virginia. The custody action may still be filed in Maryland as the child’s “home state” (where the child most recently resided for 6 consecutive months). After the child resides in Virginia for 6 consecutive months without a custody action filed in Maryland, Virginia would become the child’s “home state.”

The rationale for “home state” jurisdiction in custody cases is to prevent forum shopping and to allow the custody case to be heard where there are significant connections and evidence of the present and future care, protection and welfare of the child.

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