Can my girlfriend legally take our child anywhere?

Question: My brother and his girlfriend are having a child. They live in Missouri, but she is from Nevada and sometimes talks about moving back there, which my brother doesn’t want to do.

If the child is born here in Missouri, can she legally take the child to Nevada, or wherever else, without his permission?

 

Answer:

I cannot answer your question specifically to Missouri as I do not practice in the state.  However, Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Missouri who would be happy to help you.

With that said, depending on how Missouri treats paternity actions, he may have no say in the move until the Court determines he is the father.  Because your brother and his girlfriend will not be married at the time the child is born, he will have to be adjudicated before any custody or placement rights are established.  Even if he signs the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity at the hospital, that does not mean that he has custody and placement rights (on another note, he will want to be certain that he is the father prior to signing the acknowledgment).  He should contact a domestic litigation attorney immediately as he may be able to begin the action prior to the birth of his child.  Without a paternity order, many states default to sole legal custody and placement with the mother.  He can petition the court through a paternity action for custody and placement, however, he should also be aware that this will trigger child support as well.

Once he has a paternity order, many states have statutes in place which permit him to object to the mother moving out of state with the child.  In this scenario, it would be her burden to prove that the move is in the child’s best interest.

Your brother should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Missouri immediately.  If she moves to Nebraska prior to the birth of the child, he will have to contact an attorney licensed in Nebraska.

 

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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