I filed a motion for an emergency custody hearing. If she leaves the state, can she be charged with child abduction?

My soon to be ex wife has been withholding my parenting time with my kids for the last year. (the same amount of time I’ve been dating my girlfriend!) She is leaving the state and has threatened to not return. I filed a motion for emergency hearing and am awaiting a hearing date, can she leave the state before the date is set? Is that parental child abduction? Can she be forced to return to the state? What else can I do?

Asked on June 4, 2009 under Family Law, Florida


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I think you need to get an experienced divorce lawyer on board as soon as possible.  One place to find a qualified attorney is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Exactly what will happen here, what you need to do, depends on many of the unique facts of your case, and perhaps on Florida law, because there are some points where the law differs from one state to another.  But I think your wife would be making a very large mistake by taking off with the children, and prosecution for interference with custody or worse would be a real possibility.

If Florida is where you and she and the children have lived for years, up to now, and especially if you have a divorce case pending, she won't be able to get a custody or visitation order in another state.  If she gets one by lying, it won't be long after you find out about it, that you'll be able to have it thrown out.  And the Florida courts will hear your motion, if she leaves, and if she's not there to tell her side of the story it will be just too bad for her.

Taking off like this is hateful to most family court judges, if there's no history of domestic violence or threats.

In the long term, though, it will probably be relatively easy for her to get the court's permission to move away, but that will have to be on terms that protect your parenting time.

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