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Know the Laws: Alabama

UPDATED July 23, 2013

State Parental Kidnapping Information

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This page includes information that is specific to this state, about parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful. Custody and kidnapping are particularly complicated and it is important to try to find an experienced lawyer to help you with your case.

back to topIf there is a custody order in place, can I take my kids out of state?

It depends.  You might not have a problem if taking the child out of state does not interfere with the other parent's custody or visitation rights or if the other parent gives written permission.  If you are unsure if it would interfere with your custody order, it is best to consult a lawyer first before leaving the state.

If it is safe for you to do so, it might be a good idea to let the other parent know your plans and the date you expect to return if you are leaving the state briefly so that the parent does not think that you have left the state to relocate with the child.  Technically, under the law, you would not be considered to have "relocated" with the child unless you live somewhere else for more than 45 days.  This does not apply to trips that are temporary in nature and do not effect a change in the child’s principal residence (main home) or to moves that happen because of the need to escape domestic violence.*

Note: The laws concerning moving and taking a child out of state are very complicated and, as with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this first before you leave the state.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the AL Finding a Lawyer page.

* Alabama Code § 30-3-161(11) 

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back to topWhat if I want to move with my children?

Notice requirement
Alabama law requires parents to notify anyone else who has custody or visitation rights to a child when the parent is planning to move with the child. The judge could order, however, that for victims of domestic violence or situations where the child's safety could be in danger, the parent planning to move could be excused from having to give the required notice. Also, the judge can order that the address and phone number of the child and/or victim not be made public in court.*

At least 45 days before you move, you usually have to inform the other parent, by certified mail, of the planned move and provide them with detailed information about the move, including contact information, your child's school information, when and why you are moving. The court may also require information about the other party's right to object.

If you did not know (and it was impossible for you to know) about the move 45 days in advance and it is not possible to put off the move, the time limit to give notice is within 10 days after you know you will have to move.*1

Objection by other parent

The other parent can go to court to object to the proposed move and can ask the court to make an order preventing the move. Non-parents who are entitled to visitation may only petition the court for a modification in their visitation rights. Generally, the objection must be filed within 30 days of when that person received the notice of the planned move.*2 The non-relocating parent may not object to a move if the child will not be moving to another state AND the move results in the child living no more than 60 miles from that parent or if the move results in the child living closer to the non-relocating parent.*3

Unless the parent objecting to the move has been found to have committed domestic violence or child abuse, there is an assumption that moving is not in the best interest of the child. You have to prove that it is in the best interest of the child to move and the judge will decide whether to allow the child to go.*4

Note: If the other parent has been abusive, you may not have to provide detailed information to the other parent. If you're concerned about your safety, talk to an expert before informing the other parent of your move. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the AL State and Local Programs page.

The laws about parent and child relocation is very complicated. If you don't follow the law, you may give reason for the judge to give custody to the other parent. We urge you to seek the advice from an attorney before moving with your child. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the AL Finding a Lawyer page.

* Alabama Code § 30-3-167
*1 Alabama Code § 30-3-165 (a) & (b)
*2 Alabama Code § 30-3-169.1(a)(b) & (c)
*3 Alabama Code § 30-3-162(b)
*4 Alabama Code § 30-3-169.4

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back to topCan I get temporary emergency custody?

Maybe. If Alabama is your child’s home state, then you can apply for temporary custody in Alabama. If Alabama is not your child’s “home state,” you may be able to file for temporary emergency custody in an Alabama court as long as your child is currently living in the state and "it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse."*

Judges will usually only grant temporary emergency custody in extreme situations. You may need to convince the judge that your children are in danger in order to get an emergency custody order like this.  It could be difficult to get emergency custody if you do not have a lawyer helping you.  To find a lawyer in Alabama, go to AL Finding a Lawyer.

* Alabama Code § 30-3B-204(a)

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back to topIf the other parent takes the kids out of state without my permission, can s/he be charged with kidnapping?

Perhaps.  If the other parent takes the children out of state or somewhere else in the state in violation of your rights to custody or visitation under a court order, you can file a petition telling the court that s/he violated the court order and the judge could hold him/her in "contempt of court."  If the other parent purposefully attempts to remove your child (under the age of 18) from your legal custody without legal reason, that parent may be guilty of a crime.*  Please seek legal advice to figure out what your best course of action is.  Go to our AL Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

* Alabama Code § 13A-6-45

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