What can I father legally do to prevent his wife from leaving the state with their child?

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What can I father legally do to prevent his wife from leaving the state with their child?

I am inquiring on behalf of a friend. He and his wife have a 15 month old son. He recently moved out due to marital problems. She threatened that she was going to move from NJ to MA with his son if he didn’t move back in. He moved back in with her because he didn’t want to lose his son. He recently (within the month) got custody of another child from a previous marriage, so he is no way unfit. He doesn’t want to live there but he doesn’t want her to leave.  

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Family Law, New Jersey

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I'm assuming here that they have not been to court in this matter. In that case, if there is no court order in affect she can move out-of-state with her children.  However be aware that your friend could go to court in NJ and obtain an order which would require her to return (with the children).  If she doesn't then come back, she could be charged with parental kidnapping.  So the best way for your friend to obtain legal custody is for him to go to court before his wife does.  If he gets a temporary custody order from the court (a permanent order will be issued at such time as a divorce is finalized) his ex will have to stay in NJ (at least for the time being). He should do this in ASAP because if his ex leaves and established residency in MA, the all court proceedings could be held there (residency can be established in 6 months).

Note: In deciding whether or not she can then move out-of-state, the court will consider "the bests interests of the children" in making its determination.  


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