.V wants to move with kids; NO custody order*
Whether or not a parent can move with his/her children is a complicated legal question. It depends on a lot of different factors, and we strongly recommend that you talk to a lawyer in your state who specializes in custody before making any decisions.
To find a lawyer, including one who may be able to provide free or low-cost legal services, you can click here to this part of our site: LINK [NOTE: INCLUDE THIS IF THE WOMAN INDICATES DV: Another option may be to call the Legal Resource Center for Violence Against Women, which specializes in interstate custody matters for abused women. They may be able to connect you with an attorney in your current state who can advise you about the state’s laws on parental kidnapping. Their number is 301-270-1550.]
I cannot tell you specifically whether you can or cannot move since I cannot give legal advice. However, I will try to provide some general, basic information that may be useful.
If no custody order is in place (and there are no pending court proceedings involving the child), whether or not a parent is able to move may depend on factors such as whether the father’s paternity has been legally established, whether the state has a custodial interference law that will apply, and other factors. If paternity hasn’t been established, a parent who wants to move may want to ask a lawyer whether or not s/he is free to move under the state’s custodial interference laws. If paternity has been legally established (which can often be done via a child support order, through an affidavit of paternity, through marriage, etc.), some states’ laws assume that a mother has custody of a child born out of wedlock but other states’ laws assume both parents have equal rights. I don’t know what STATE laws say about this. Again, it is important to speak to a lawyer who understands your state’s custodial interference laws who can advise you about whether or not you can move based on your specific situation and your state’s laws. If a state’s custodial interference laws do not allow a parent to move away with a child, the parent may have to go to court to file for custody and for permission to relocate. At that point, a judge would consider many factors and may decide whether or not to allow the move. Here is a link to custody information in your state in case a lawyer advises you that you need to file: LINK Again, I cannot tell you what to do since I can’t provide any sort of legal advice.
In general, when there is no court permission given for a move and the child is moved to a different state, either parent may still be able to go to court in the state where the child was previously living to file for custody or visitation of the child. Depending on the situation and the state, the judge may order the child to be returned to the state during the court proceeding while deciding whether or not to allow the move. The parent who moved may also have to be present in court for the court case unless s/he gets permission to appear in court by phone. Furthermore, in a state where parents are assumed to have equal rights, the fact that a parent moved the children out of state without first getting court permission may negatively impact the parent’s ability to later get permission to move from the court. If the child and parent move, and the other parent doesn’t file anything in court for 6 months, custody/visitation petitions may need to be filed in the new state where the child is living. There may be exceptions to this general rule, however (such as if there were previous court cases regarding the child in a different state, perhaps, and other exceptions). Again, for specific advice, talking to a lawyer is best.