What can I do if my ex wants to move with my kids?

In this video, divorce attorney Lisa Angel talks about what to do if your ex-spouse wants to move out of state – and take your children with them.


Hi. I’m Lisa Angel. In this video we will talk about the laws regarding your rights to child custody in North Carolina.

When going through a divorce, it’s hard enough having to adjust to life without your ex. On top of that, many parents also have something else to adjust to – their new life with their children. Joint custody situations are great for when your ex lives nearby, but what if your ex wants to move out of state? What if they want to take the kids with them?

To combat parental kidnapping done in an effort to attain a new custody decree in another state, North Carolina has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act is an attempt to bring a set of standardized jurisdiction and enforcement rules; and a version of this Act has been adopted in every state.

However, it is wise to compare the Act as adopted in another state, if it is relevant to your case, to determine if there are different modifications of the act by that particular legislature. The act provides four bases for jurisdiction over child custody matters.

This state has jurisdiction:

  1.   if it is the state in which the child lived for the six months immediately prior to the custody proceeding, i.e. the “home state”, or if the state had been the home state and the child is now absent because he or she has been removed by the individual seeking custody; or
  2.   if it is in the child’s best interest because the child and one or both parents have a “significant connection” with the state and evidence relevant to the child’s present or future care, training, and relationships is available within the state, and a court of another state does not have jurisdiction; or
  3.   if the child is physically present in North Carolina and has been abandoned or an emergency situation exists; or
  4.   if no other state would have jurisdiction under the act, or if another state has declined jurisdiction and it is in the child’s best interest for North Carolina to assume jurisdiction.

Keep in mind that while the act will prevent your spouse from relocating with your child in a non-emergency situation during your divorce proceedings, the other parent may still be granted out of state custody of your children if they can prove they have lived in that state for at least 6 months or have significant connections to that state, including family, friends, or other connections.

If your ex wants to relocate with your child and there is already a custody agreement in place, they will first need to modify that agreement before they can move. If they do not first modify the agreement and interrupt your custody schedule as a result, you can file a breach of contract lawsuit or a contempt motion against your ex.

You can accompany these with a child custody action (if the terms are in a separation agreement) or a motion to modify the child custody order (if the terms are in a court order).

If your ex moves out of state with the children with the purpose of evading the North Carolina courts, then you may qualify for an ex parte custody order, which is an emergency custody order.

If your day in court comes and your ex is granted their wish to move to another state along with custody of your children, you can still maintain a meaningful and loving relationship with them. In many child custody cases involving relocation, parents may still have joint custody of their children. They may change their visitation schedule so that the number of visits is less frequent, but the time spent with their children is longer and of higher quality. A great example of this is children who spend the school year with one parent and the summer with another.

With the benefits of electronic communication, you can also continue to parent your children without being physically near them. Using FaceTime or Skype, playing online games, and helping with homework are just a few of the ways you can continue to have quality time with your child.

If you are frequently paying for travel expenses that you or your children endure in order to keep up with your custody schedule, you may qualify for a credit from the court. This is to help parents who might have to undergo a significant financial burden in order to spend time with their children. If your expenses qualify, you will be awarded a line item under child support for “extraordinary expenses”.

For more information, visit our website at Rosen.com. You’ll find other videos, as well as articles, tools, and other resources to help you with all of your divorce related questions.

Thank you for watching. I’m Lisa Angel with the Rosen Law Firm.

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