Can I leave the state with my son without legal repercussions?

Question:

My husband and I were previously living in Alaska. After I told him I wanted a divorce, he left the state to live in Florida with our son. He did not give me any notification. The police informed me that there was nothing they could do, due to that fact that we had not filed any paperwork yet.

I am now in Florida and want to grab my son and leave the state to a secure home with no notification to my husband. We have still not filed any paperwork yet. Is it possible for me to leave the state with my son without any legal charges being filed against me?

 
Answer:

Each state has different provisions which control custody and placement of children.  I do not practice in Florida.  You need to speak to someone licensed in Florida. Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Florida who would be happy to meet with you. DO NOT do anything without talking to an attorney.  You should also be discussing your case with an attorney in Alaska if that is where you would like to file for divorce—act fast as there are prerequisites that must be met which will determine where you can file for divorce.

In most states, married persons have an equal right to their children.  This is why police officers tend to not get involved when married persons have placement disputes.  Some states have laws that criminalize interference with parental rights.  Claiming that he did it first may not be a defense.  Because I do not know the laws in Alaska or Florida, I cannot tell you whether or not either of you is breaking the law.

Some states allow you to file for temporary orders prior to filing for a divorce.  These temporary orders would dictate who has custody and placement of the child while the divorce is pending.  In addition to discussing the consequences you may face by grabbing your son, you and your attorney can explore your legal options for obtaining orders regarding placement of your son.  Given the situation, you may even be able to obtain emergency orders.

 

 

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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