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Legal Information: General

Parental Kidnapping

Laws current as of June 24, 2024

Can I move my children out of the state?

The answer to this question is very complicated and may depend on many different factors. We strongly suggest talking to a lawyer for specific legal advice on your situation. The laws on parental kidnapping, also known as custodial interference, child concealment, or parental abduction, are different in each state. In some states, it may be against the law to take children out of state only if it violates a custody order or if there is an active custody case pending. In other states, the act of taking children out of state itself may not be illegal unless the parent hides (conceals) the children from the other parent. Other factors that may be considered are whether the parents are married and considered to have equal parental rights or, in the case of unmarried parents, whether the father’s paternity has been legally established. Additionally, there may be a big difference between if you are planning a short trip out of state or if you plan to move out of state long-term.

Please talk to a lawyer in the state you are thinking of leaving from who is knowledgeable about parental kidnapping so s/he can advise you on your state’s laws and how they might apply to your situation. You can find legal referrals on our Finding a Lawyer page.

If you have been charged or fear being charged with parental kidnapping, go to our National Organizations - Abuse Victims Charged with Crimes section for possible help.

Depending on your situation, you may also want to apply for temporary emergency custody. Please see Can I get temporary emergency custody? for more information.