Legal Information: Federal


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My husband is threatening to take my children away if I leave him. What can I do?

If your abuser is threatening to take your children away or take them to his home country, you can apply for a custody order at any time to prevent him from doing this.

Custody & parental kidnapping laws are based on state law. Each state has its own specific rules. There is state-specific information about custody and parental kidnapping for some states on our website. Choose your state from the top-left corner of any page on this site and then click on Custody or Parental Kidnapping.

Basic things you can do are:

Contact a family lawyer or a domestic violence advocate to find out how to file for a custody order. A custody order can order the other parent not to take the children out of the country or out of the state where you live.

If the children are US citizens, you can send a copy of the custody order to the embassy of your partner’s home country and a copy to the US Department of State to try to prevent either country from issuing passports and/or visas for the children.

Give a copy of the order to the children’s schools and tell the schools not to allow the children to leave with anyone but yourself.

I f you can, make sure that you have recent photos and birth certificates for the children. Keep a list of addresses and phone numbers of the other parent’s friends and relatives in the home country.

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