What Can I Do If My Ex Left the State With Our Child?

After a couple divorces, it’s common for one spouse to want to leave the state and take the children with them. This can be distressing and life-changing for the spouse who stays in-state. However, parents have various legal options to challenge and sometimes even prevent their former partner from moving children out-of-state.

What Is Considered Child Relocation?

Alabama’s Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act (also known as the “Relocation Act”) was put in place to help ensure that children have access to both their parents, even if their parents are no longer married.

The act specifies that a custodial parent must get court approval before moving with children to a new permanent residence if the new location is out-of-state or is within Alabama but more than 60 miles from the children’s other parent.

Relocation Prior to Divorce Finalization vs After Divorce Finalization

According to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, parents can typically file for custody only in the children’s “home state,” which is usually defined as the state where the children lived for the six months before the divorce.  

Moving before the divorce decree and custody arrangements are finalized might jeopardize a parent’s claim to custody of their children. At best, the newly out-of-state parent might be required to bring the kids back to the “home state” for custody hearings. However, the parent could also be charged with kidnapping if they fled before finalizing a consensual custody arrangement.

There may be more leeway for parents to relocate after a divorce has been finalized.

Is It Legal for My Ex-Spouse to Move My Child Out of State?

According to Alabama’s “Relocation Act,” before an ex-spouse can move children out of state, they must notify the children’s non-custodial parent via certified mail of their plans at least 45 days before the proposed move. If the need to move was sudden, they must notify no later than 10 days after they became aware of the need to move.

This notice must include various information about the move and new residence, such as the moving date, new address, and new school, as well as a warning that objections to the move must be made within 30 days of receipt of the notice. If the non-custodial parent objects, a judge might order that the custodial parent delay the move until after a hearing, during which the judge will rule on whether the move is in the best interest of the children.

Can My Ex Take My Child Out of State on a Trip?

Whether parents can take dual-custody children on out-of-state trips depends on custody and court orders. This is typically allowed if the custody order does not explicitly prohibit travel across state lines. However, some orders have stipulations, such as those requiring parents to get permission from one another before taking children out-of-state.

How Can New Beginnings Family Law Help Me?

If your ex left the state with your children, the experienced child custody lawyers at New Beginnings Family Law are ready to stand up for your custody rights. Our skilled attorneys will help answer all your questions, help you build a solid case, and fight for you in negotiations and in court. Call us or fill out an online contact form to get help today.