I recently came home to find that my wife had left me and she took our two children with her. She took them across state lines to Florida (I live in Colorado) and is refusing to let me have access to them.
What do I need to do to start the divorce process and see my kids again?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and am unable to give you legal advice, I can give you some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Where I do practice in Virginia, one parent can take the children from the other parent and there is no legal recourse until a court order regarding the children is put into place. This is because until there is a court order, both parents have 100% rights to their children, meaning that either parent can legally block the other from seeing the children. So, the quickest way to get to see the children is to have a court order entered granting him access.
You must also be aware of timing. Right now you can still file for divorce and child custody in Colorado; however, if you wait longer than six months from the date your wife and children left, Florida will become the new home state and you will have to file there. This is controlled by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
It is generally advisable to move quickly in situations like these. The longer that you wait, the more rights you will lose as a father and it will cost you more money.
Child custody issues across state lines is very fact-specific and requires a specialized knowledge of local law. For these reasons I would suggest you contact an attorney who specializes in family law matters in your jurisdiction.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on marital property, so please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws of your state and how they impact your case.
To arrange an initial consultation to child custody rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Virginia divorce Lawyer Charles D. Hatley, contact Cordell & Cordell.