Can my wife take our kids and move out of state without my permission?

We have 2 kids together and we have resided in our state for the past 5 years. My wife got a job offer in another state which pays the same as her current job here. Now, she has quit and is moving in 3 weeks with our kids even though I disagree and choose to stay here. She says that she is not leaving me and I am welcome to join them but I do not want to move. For the

past year due to health reasons I have been unable to work thus bringing in no income and she has been the breadwinner. She said I cannot stop her from taking the kids since I cannot afford to care for them so my only option is to come with her. I do not want to loose my kids but I do not want to move. Is there anything that I can do to stop her from taking my kids so far away from me if I decide to stay or am I screwed and have no other option?

Asked on May 13, 2016 under Family Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As long as there is no custody order in effect, then your wife is free to relocate with your children to another state. If you want to prevent that, at least temporarily, you should file for custody. At that point, your wife can be charged with parental kidnapping if she attempts the move. The judge will then make a decision as to whether or not she can leave with them. Even if she is granted permission, matters of support and visitation will be addressed.
At this point, you really should consult directly with a local attorney; they can best advise you further. In the meantime, here is a link to a site that will provide you with additional information:
You can take your child out-of-stat as long as there is no court order in affect.  Your husband, however, can go to court in CA and obtain an order which will require you to return to the state.  If at that point you don't return, you can be charged with parental kidnapping.  The safest way for you to obtain legal custody of the children is for you to go to court first.  If you get a temporary order from the court on custody, a permanent order will be issued when your divorce is finalized.  In deciding whether or not you can then move out-of-state, the court will consider the bests interests of the children in making its determination.  
Note:  You could file for custody once you re-establish residency in MN (but that will take time; in most state 6 months).  In the meantime, your husband could file and,  as stated above, you could be required at that point to r

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