So under the UCCJEA, the federal child custody jurisdiction act, the children's home state (MD) would have continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the custody issue.
For child custody the court will look to the best interests of the child-that statute is here:
One of the things they will give significant weight to is if a parent discourages the children from having a meaningful relationship with the other parent, (without justification), because the law does favor ongoing and continuous relationships with BOTH parents as that is presumably in the child's best interest.
This explains in detail the factors the court will consider:
So essentially the father can petition the court for custody or visitation; if the children have a preference and that preference is based on mature and logical reasoning the court can take that into consideration. When a parent lives out of state, the court will try to encourage phone/video visitation in between physical visitations.
Basically when the parties have been physically separated for a year or longer, that is grounds for an absolute divorce, meaning the court can divide the marital property and terminate the marriage.
A party can make a divorce difficult by fighting custody, alimony amount, division of property; but if a party refuses to even participate in the divorce, the court can enter a default judgment.
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