Can she move the children out of state while we’re still legally married?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

I am in the middle of divorce so I am still legally married. My wife wants to move with our child back to the state she used to live in while the divorce is pending.

Can she legally do this without my consent? If she did move, would the divorce case transfer to the new state?


The old saying “possession is nine-tenths the law” holds true when dealing with children whose parents are still married. While parents are married, neither parent needs the other’s consent to take the children out of state.

However, if during the course of their divorce a temporary custody order has been put in place the mother may need the father’s or the court’s permission to leave the state with the child.

If no such orders exist, the father should petition the court for an order prohibiting the mother from leaving the state with the child. Based on the mother’s representations the order is needed to finalize the divorce in the state you currently live in. Because a divorce is already pending in that state, it is unlikely that another state’s court will have jurisdiction (authority) to start a new divorce and custody case.

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in your jurisdiction to further discuss the specifics of your situation. Cordell & Cordell does represent men in divorce nationwide. Thank you for submitting your question.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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