Does geographic location affect child custody determinations?

When parents have plans to relocate after a divorce, does that impact child custody determinations? Possibly.

Under Maryland law, a court will examine a variety of factors in determining the best interest standard on a minor child’s behalf. Such factors may include practically anything that might affect a child’s family life experience.

For example, a court might be interested in knowing which parent has been functioning as the primary caregiver, the scheduling demands of each parent, the environment and lifestyle that a child has been accustomed to, the financial resources and health of each parent, and the child’s own preference. No single factor is dispositive. Rather, Maryland courts apply a totality of circumstances in determining custody.

Nevertheless, there are practical considerations to a child custody determination, such as whether a parent will be able to maintain a visitation schedule. In a recent celebrity example involving actress Halle Berry and husband Olivier Martinez, the couple filed for divorce and both are seeking joint custody of their two-year-old son. Martinez reportedly had wanted to live in Europe when he married Berry, but a previous custody arrangement involving Berry’s daughter with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubrey required her to remain in Los Angeles.

Would Martinez have a chance at joint custody if he moved to Europe after the divorce? It’s hard to imagine that a parent could remotely or virtually make the daily decisions in a child’s life that the primary caregiver is required to make, despite the innovations of technology, such as video chat. However, each custody determination involves a unique mix of factors, and an attorney can help parents understand how a court might weigh each factor in arriving at a determination.

Source: People, "Halle Berry Does Not Want Custody Battle, Seeks 'Easy and Amicable' Divorce from Olivier Martinez," Jodi Guglielmi, Oct. 29, 2015