Children often end up a casualty of the divorce battles between their parents. Instead of focusing solely on what will be best for the children of the family, divorcing couples often use the children as a weapon against one another in custody battles.
A parent could seek sole custody, knowing that it will hurt the other parent if they win. Other times, one parent could intentionally kidnap the child and leave the state or even the country as a means of terminating the parental relationship between their child and their former spouse.
There are many reasons why you might suspect that this could occur in your family. Perhaps your spouse has family in another country. Maybe they frequently travel to another state for work. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand your rights as a Texas parent if you worry about the potential for parental kidnapping after your divorce.
The courts have to approve any long-distance move
The most likely outcome in the average custody case is some form of shared custody. The Texas courts want to do everything in their power to support the parent-child relationship with both parents. One way that the courts support a healthy parental relationship is by allocating parental rights and responsibilities to each parent.
Another way is by placing certain limitations on life choices made by the parent with primary physical or legal custody. Those limitations often include restrictions on how far the parent and child can move. Of course, there are always situations in which a move to a distant location is justified. Whether the situation results from a remarriage or a job offer, it may be possible for your ex to petition the courts to move out of state.
However, if you have evidence or a strong suspicion that the move comes from a desire to punish you as opposed to a desire to better the life of the child, the courts will allow you to argue against the move. They will weigh the evidence and consider the circumstances before either granting or denying permission to your ex for the move. Unfortunately, simply because someone doesn’t receive court approval for a major move does not mean they won’t still attempt to leave the state or the country.
Maintain careful records and monitor the situation for signs of impending flight
Although it does happen, it is unusual for one person to simply pack up and move in a matter of hours. After all, there are many practical concerns involved in moving to another state or another country. You should watch for warning signs that a move is imminent, such as a request to authorize a passport for your child or indications that your ex has begun packing up the house.
Your child may also share with you the fact that they will soon move to a new place. Document anything that concerns you in writing with as much detail as possible, which will help you convince the courts of your concerns. If you believe that your spouse may soon attempt to leave the state or the country with your child without court permission, you may need to go to the courts and ask them to intervene.
In cases where your spouse is in the process of leaving, you may need to contact law enforcement as well. Working with a Texas attorney who understands complex child custody cases is critical to successful outcomes when there is the potential for a parental kidnapping after a divorce.