A frequent question that parents have about child custody is what happens if one parent takes the children out of state and never returns.
The outcome depends on if there is a custody order or agreement in effect. If there is not, you can still get your children back but the process may be a little more difficult.
If there is a custody order in place, a custodial parent cannot move out of state without permission from the court or written permission from the non-custodial parent. Review the terms of your custody agreement or order for more details.
If there is no custody order, the relocating parent cannot file for custody in the new state until the children have lived in that state for six months. The state has the right to refuse jurisdiction if it is proven that the relocating parent has hidden the location of the children from the other parent until the six months has passed, in order to get custody.
It may be a good idea to immediately file for custody if the other parent indicates they may leave the state with the children.
The Law On Interstate Custody
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) works in conjunction with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), all work together to establish uniformity amongst the states with regard to child custody orders so that a parent can not just take the child to another state and get a custody order.
The custody order from the first state will be given full force in all other states and law enforcement can be contacted to assist in returning the child to the other parent when the violating parent refuses to return the child.
What To Do If Your Ex Takes Your Children Out Of State
Immediately contact your attorney who will contact the district attorney. Since an order was violated, they will be able to access the Federal Parent Locator Service and get in contact with the district attorney where your child is located.
Your attorney may also file a motion to compel the return the children, a violation of the order and custodial interference.
You can’t stop the other parent from taking the children out of state for a vacation, but if they don’t return you have legal options.
If you’re considering taking your children, you should discuss these thoughts with an attorney. Not only may you face criminal charges you may also lose custody of your children entirely. If you have a valid reason for relocating it’s best to go through the legal system.
As always, this is legal information and not legal advice and you should consult with an attorney before taking action.