“My ex took my child out of state without permission.” “My ex secretly moved our child out of the state.”
These complaints are all the same and common cases after divorce when one spouse tries to escape from the state just to keep the child with him/her. It is undoubtedly a matter of fear and tension for the other spouse. What to do, then?
There are so many things that you can do to get your child back. I will tell you more details on what you should do if your ex took your child out of state without your permission.
Can a parent take a child out of state without permission?
Depending upon the type of custody order, parental status (custodial or non-custodial), and marital status – a parent may take a child out of state without permission. Many states have laws in this regard to stop parental-child kidnapping.
Further, courts have the discretion to limit a parent’s ability to remove the child from the state or country. For this, courts consider many things, such as:
- The custody arrangement
- Implications of moving out of state
- Relationship of each parent with the child
- The age of the child
- Routes and means by which each parent would have to travel to see the child
- The financial impact of the move, and
- Whether one parent is trying to interfere with the relationship between the child and the other parent.
In the case of joint custody, a parent can take the child out of state without permission unless otherwise specified in the custody agreement.
However, that parent can’t interfere with the child’s time with either parent. Even if he/she takes the child with them, they can’t be gone too long because the other parent has visitation rights.
But what if the custodial parent took the child out of state without permission? Well, here also come the terms and conditions of the custody order. The custodial parent can take the child without permission until it’s time for a non-custodial parent’s visitation.
My Ex Took My Child Out of State without Permission: What to Do?
Sarah, one of my cousins, got divorced two years ago. She has a 5-year-old son. 2 months ago, when his ex came to visit their son, he said he wanted to spend one full day with his child. So, my cousin trusted him and permitted him to go anywhere but not out of the city.
But, after an hour, when my cousin called her ex, he didn’t respond. For the next 5-6 hours, my cousin continuously tried to reach him, but no response. Even, in next day, she got no call from him. She became frightened and anxious about her child. From one of his friends, she learned that her husband left this state last night with their child.
She called me saying, “Help! my ex took our children out of state and won’t return.” As soon as I heard this, I thought about the legal actions she could take in this case.
If you are also in such a situation, like my cousin Sarah where your ex has taken your child out of state without your permission, then here are a few things that you can do:
#1. Get help from other family members:
Talk to your parents or siblings about the situation if you have a close-knit family. They might be able to help you get in touch with your ex or talk some sense into him/her.
If your ex is taking your child out of state forever, then obviously, he/she will not tell you their whereabouts. But your family members might be of some assistance in this case.
For example, if your sister knows where they are going, she can at least tell you that much. This will help you take the next steps accordingly.
Talk to them if you have a good relationship with your ex’s family. They might be able to convince your ex to come back or, at the very least, tell you where they are going. But make sure that you involve only supportive people who will not add fuel to the fire. You don’t want to make the situation more difficult than it already is.
#2. Convince your ex to return your child:
This is the best-case scenario. If you can get in touch with your ex and convince him/her to return your child, then do so as soon as possible.
The longer they stay out of state, the more complicated things will get. So, it’s better to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. There are many ways to convince your ex to return your child. You can talk to them over the phone, send them an email or even write a letter.
Stay calm and be persuasive. Don’t beg or threaten your ex in any way. This will only make things worse. Explain to them calmly and rationally why the child needs to be with you. That would be even better if you could provide evidence to support your claim.
For example, if you have a custody order stating that the child must live with you, show it to your ex. This will help convince them to return the child to you.
#3. Seek help from the police:
If you can’t get in touch with your ex or if they are not returning your calls, then it’s time to seek help from the police. However, generally, police take action against your ex if there is any court order in place. So, if you don’t have a court order, you will need to get one first.
You can file for emergency custody if your child is in danger or if there is a risk of them being taken out of state permanently. Police can’t force your ex to return your child. They can help locate them and, if necessary, take them into custody.
Once you have the court order, you can contact the police and ask them to help you locate your child. They will also be able to take necessary action against your ex if he/she refuses to return the child to you. You can call CPS to protect your child if there are any signs of parental alienation.
#4. File a motion for contempt with the court:
Only if you have a custodial order in place should you file a motion for contempt with the court. This is because, without a custodial order, the court will not have any jurisdiction over your case.
A motion for contempt is a formal request to the court to punish your ex for violating the terms of the custody order. If the court finds your ex guilty of contempt, they can order them to pay a fine, go to jail or even lose custody of the child. Generally, the court will only take such drastic measures if your child is in danger.
If you want to file a contempt motion, you must show that your ex has violated a court order. For instance, if a custody order states that the child must live with you, then your ex taking the child out of state without your permission is a violation.
Consulting an attorney would be the best way to go about this. They will be able to guide you through the process and help you build a strong case against your ex.
#5. File a summons and complaint with the court:
If there is no custodial order, but the paternity is already established, you can file a summons and complaint with the court. This is a request for custody. Here the court will see both parents’ capability to take care of the child before making a decision.
You must complete the necessary paperwork and submit it to the court. Once you have done so, the court will schedule a hearing where both sides can present their case.
You must prove to the court that you are a fit parent and your ex is not. This can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any proof of your ex’s bad parenting. In such cases, it’s always better to seek the help of a lawyer. They will be able to guide you and help you build a strong case.
If you have evidence to support your claim, bring it to the hearing. This could include witness testimony, photos, or even videos. The more evidence you have, the better your chances of winning custody.
If the court decides in your favor, they will issue a custody order. This order will state that the child must live with you and that your ex is not allowed to take them out of state without your permission. Here you better consult with an attorney as the law varies from state to state.
What to do if your ex takes your kids out of state without your permission? If you want to learn more, watch this video:
FAQs on My Ex Took My Child Out of State without Permission
Can I move my children out of the state?
First, you must consult with your child’s other parent to see if they agree to the move. If you have joint custody, both parents must agree to the move or obtain a court order granting permission.
Secondly, you will need to consider the move’s impact on your child’s schooling and extracurricular activities. Moving to another school district may be disruptive if your child is mid-way through their schooling.
Finally, you must evaluate whether the move is in your child’s best interests. This includes considering factors such as their relationship with their other parent and extended family and their overall well-being.
In general, however, it is best to avoid making any major changes to children’s living situation while they are in the middle of a divorce or custody battle. Any change should be made in consultation with the other parent and the child’s best interests.
Making a sudden change without consulting with the other parent can create confusion and upheaval for the children, and it may even be used against you in court.
If you are considering a move, you must speak with a parenting coordinator or other experienced family law attorney to understand your rights and options.
Can I take my child out of state if there is no custody order?
If you are a parent, you have the right to take your child with you if you move to another state. However, if there is no custody order in place, you may need to take some legal steps before you can do so.
If the other parent objects to the move, you must file a petition with the court asking for permission to relocate with your child. The court will then consider various factors, including the distance of the move, the reason for the move, and the impact on the child’s relationship with the other parent.
If you can show that the move is in your child’s best interests, the court will likely permit you to relocate. However, if you can not reach an agreement with the other parent, it may be necessary to ask a judge to make a decision.
How do you stop your ex from being taken out of the country?
One of the most difficult challenges facing divorced or separated parents is what to do when one parent plans to take the child out of the country.
If you have joint custody, you may be unable to stop your ex from taking your child out of the country, but you can do a few things to make it more difficult for them.
First, get a court order requiring your ex to notify you of their travel plans in advance. This will give you time to take legal action if necessary.
Second, ensure that your child’s passport is up to date and that you have a copy.
Finally, talk to your child about what they should do if they are taken out of the country against your will.
Taking these steps can help protect your child’s best interests if your ex attempts to take them out of the country.
What happens if my ex gets caught with my child?
If your ex is caught with your child, it is possible that they could be charged with parental-child kidnapping. If this happens, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. They will be able to help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected.
In some cases, exes caught with children may also face child abuse or neglect charges. If this is the case, getting in touch with a lawyer specializing in family law is essential. They will be able to help you build a strong case and protect your child’s best interests.
How can I take legal custody of my child from my ex?
It can be difficult to take legal custody of a child from an ex, but it is possible if you meet certain requirements.
First, you must be the child’s biological parent or have legally adopted the child.
Second, you must prove that the other parent is unfit to raise the child. This can be done by showing that the other parent has a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.
Finally, you must demonstrate that you can provide a stable and loving home for the child.
Further, assuming you are the child’s parent, you will likely need to file a petition with the court to take legal custody of your child from your ex.
This is typically done through the local child welfare agency or the court system in your jurisdiction. The petition must specify why you are seeking custody and why it is in the child’s best interest.
You will also need to provide evidence to support your claims. Once the petition is filed, a hearing will be scheduled where both sides can present their case.
The judge will then decide based on the child’s best interest. If you are awarded custody, the other parent will have visitation rights as determined by the court.
It can be challenging when your ex takes your child out of state without permission. Although your ex, in some cases, can take your child on vacation, you need to take action if they plan on making it a permanent move.
But first, try to convince your ex through a good conversation. You can also take help from your family members. If you cannot reach him, get help from the police.
If nothing works, then you can always take legal action. With a court order, you can seek help from the police. You can file a motion for contempt if you have a custodial order.