Intentions aside, it is an earthquake for a parent when their spouse threatens to leave the state with the children. Though there are numerous circumstances where this may surface, consider it through the lens of someone who just told their spouse they want to get divorced. Arguments and anger may lead someone to vocalize their intent to keep the children and move away.
We used the word “intentions” because some parents may feel they are doing the right thing. Others want to punish or hurt the other spouse by taking away their ability to be around their kids. Regardless of their motivations, never forget that you have parental rights. Because of how frightening this scenario is, we wanted to outline what you should do if you are ever in it.
How You Should Proceed
Because you plan on filing for divorce (or your spouse is), contact a family law attorney with experience with child custody cases, which would be very common for someone who practices this area of the law. If you have already obtained legal counsel, inform them of what your spouse said and take their advice. That said, your attorney may be able to pursue emergency custody. There are specific circumstances in which you can seek this, and preventing your spouse from leaving the state with your children is one of them.
Although an emergency custody hearing can happen quickly, it is a temporary solution because it happens ex parte. In other words, your spouse will not have a chance to defend themselves because they will not be present. If someone obtains an emergency custody order against you, you will have an opportunity to go to court with legal counsel supporting you at a later date.
Another option outside of emergency custody is to get a custody agreement or parenting plan on file with the court.
What If They Have Already Left?
Before we elaborate further, it is essential to note that you should be aware of whether your child is under the jurisdiction of the state you are in. In North Carolina, the child must have lived with the parent for at least six consecutive months before the beginning of the child custody proceedings. If that is the case, North Carolina is the child’s home state.
Even if your spouse has already left the state, you still have many legal options that you can discuss with legal counsel. They may advise you to file a custody petition to force the child’s parent to return with the child to their home state of North Carolina. Your spouse may have violated the custody agreement. If you haven’t created or filed one yet, you may still be able to pursue emergency custody. Regardless, the fact that the other parent left the state with your children without your permission could also significantly impact the custody case that follows.
Get in Contact with Benbow, Davidson, and Martin, P.C.
Learning that your former spouse has left the state with your children will make you feel powerless. The attorneys at Benbow, Davidson, and Martin, P.C. will support, advise, and help you with your custody dispute. You are not alone, and we are as experienced as we are empathetic to your position. Contact our offices to schedule your consultation.