A couple months ago my ex-wife got angry at me, picked our son up from school and took him to live with her.
He is unhappy with her and refuses to go back after spending the weekend with me so I am currently keeping him.
What is my first step to ensure that I am not going to have to give him back?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Generally, each parent has equal rights to the child absent a court order specifying custody and parenting time. This means that either of you can pick the child up from school and take him home and are under no obligation to return him to the other parent. You don’t need to return your son to her now, but if she has possession of the child, she doesn’t need to give him to you, either.
Your first step to being able to keep your son without worrying about interference from your wife is to file for a custody determination and attempt to get a temporary order in place.
Family law is based on statutes that are state specific. I am licensed to practice in Nebraska and am not able to give specific and detailed legal advice regarding your situation. You need to contact an attorney licensed in your state who specializes in domestic litigation.