Should I move first and then try to modify custody or should I try to modify custody before I move?
This is another “it depends” scenario. This time, however, it depends on what the custody order says. Does it say that physical custody is to be exercised in North Carolina? Does it say that visitation must be exercised in North Carolina?
If so, and you just move without an agreement from the other parent and without permission from the court, you open yourself up to a contempt action.
What are the consequences if I just go ahead and move with my child?
Please note that this is not kidnapping! A lot of people are convinced that if the other parent moves their child without their consent, that they may be charged with kidnapping. This is not the case. Kidnapping is a very specific crime in North Carolina. In fact, many people try to call the police in such situations, and the police officer will tell the party that he or she cannot help them and that the party needs to go through family court.
What if there is no child custody order in place?
If there is no child custody order in place AND no pending child custody action, then either parent can technically move with the child freely. Again, this is not kidnapping. However, note that even if your child’s other parent has moved out of state with the child, for the next six months, NC still has jurisdiction over the child custody matters as they relate to that child. So, you may wish to file a custody action and have your case heard in NC.
What if there is a child custody action pending?
If there is a child custody action pending, neither party can move the child out of state. To do so could result in a judge issuing an order for contempt (see above) against the party.
If there is a pending custody action and you believe that the other parent may move the child out of state, you may file an action for temporary emergency custody. Fleeing the jurisdiction is grounds for a judge to grant a party temporary emergency custody.
If you are considering a move or have questions about this topic or another family law matter, contact us to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.