If there is a custody order in place, can I take my kids out of the state?
It depends on what your order says. If your order specifically says you can leave the state with your children, you can do so. Otherwise, you may need to get the other parent’s permission or a judge to change your order before leaving the state with your kids.
How can I keep the other parent from taking my children out of the country?
If you believe the other parent may take your children out of the country and refuse to return, you can ask a judge to help prevent the abduction. If a judge believes the other parent may commit international child abduction, s/he may:
- Give custody to the parent who does not present a risk of international abduction,
- Change a custody order to reduce the risk,
- Order that supervision with the potential kidnapper be supervised,
- Order the potential kidnapper to not pick up the child from school or come near the child, except for during allowed visitation times,
- Order the potential kidnapper to not take the child out of the US, to surrender the child’s passport, and to not get a new passport or travel visa for the child,
- Order that the Department of State be notified of travel restrictions on the child,
- Order that the potential kidnapper pay a bond of enough money to cover getting the child back, in case kidnapping takes place,
- Give law enforcement officers the authority to prevent abduction, and/or
- Make changes to the custody order so that it is more easily enforced, such as making it extremely specific and clear.
In deciding whether or not the other parent is at risk for committing international child abduction, a judge will look at:
- Whether the parent has committed in the past, threatened to commit, or tried to commit international child abduction,
- Whether the parent doesn’t have a strong financial reason to say in the US,
- Whether it looks like the parent is taking steps (like quitting their job or getting travel arrangements in order) to leave the country,
- Whether the parent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse, marital instability, or not cooperating with the other parent,
- Whether the parent has a criminal history or a history of violating court orders,
- Whether the parent has connections outside the US and/or lacks significant connections in the US, and
- Other relevant factors.1
See also How can I keep the other parent from taking my children out of the country? in our General Parental Kidnapping section for more information about the federal government’s program regarding passport alerts.
1 A.C.A. § 9-13-406