It’s Important to Act Quickly
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson, I’m a Dads’ rights attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, And today I’d like to answer a question I see a lot, I’ve seen a lot recently on our father’s rights support group on Facebook.
And that is what should you do if your child’s mother takes your child and disappears out of state?
This is kind of a multi-part question. And there’s a couple of different answers depending on your relationship with the mother.
Today I’m going to talk predominantly about the issue of what to do if it is your ex-wife or your soon-to-be ex-wife. Your rights vary depending on whether you are married to the child’s mother or not.
But for today, we’re going to focus on if you were married to the mother. If you’re married to the mother, the first thing you want to do is obviously get yourself a really good attorney, and somebody who’s aggressive, and they and you want to have them get on top of filing for divorce and for temporary orders as quickly as we possibly can.
If you have circumstances where there is an emergency, in other words where there are specific facts that evidence an immediate threat to the health, safety, or welfare of your child or children, then you may be able to pursue a type of order called an emergency temporary order, which these proceedings are done in ex parte.
In other words, you go in front of the judge yourself without the other party, that is the children’s mother, present. Explain the situation to the judge, and then the judge will make a decision as to whether or not to order immediate custody.
If immediate custody were to be issued by the judge, she also has the power to issue a writ to aid in the collection of the kids.
Now, there are a couple of problems that you run into in this situation. First of all, the judge may not necessarily consider your child’s mother simply taking the child and disappearing to be an emergency in and of itself.
The other problem is if she’s taken the child out of state then you will need to go to the other jurisdiction in order to have the order enforced.
Now under the US Constitution’s full faith and credit clause, if you have a binding court order that says you get the kids, then the foreign state, that is another state in the union would be is constitutionally required to recognize the validity of the order.
Furthermore, and this is why you want to get on top of this immediately, Oklahoma, and many other states are parties to a set of uniform laws called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Now, what that does is, if you get to the courthouse before she gets to the courthouse, assuming that the court otherwise has jurisdiction in a venue, and this is where you need a good lawyer who can determine which court has jurisdiction, and is a proper venue, then that court now you could say owns that case. It has exclusive jurisdiction.
In other words, that court gets to hear anything to do with custody of that child or those children.
So it’s really important you want to get it into court in Oklahoma as quickly as possible, to avoid her being able to get into court in the other state. And again, you want to try as quickly as possible to get an order awarding you custody.
The downside being, that a judge may not consider the mere fact that she’s taken the kids and disappeared to be an emergency, so you may be subject to the court’s calendar. In Tulsa that could take a while.
We’re one of the busiest jurisdictions in the state and so our courts have a significant backlog, as a routine matter. However, it’s important to get into court as quickly as possible, and it’s important to get her served as quickly as possible.
And then, of course, the next thing you want to do is you will want to consult with counsel in whichever state she’s gone to in order to see about what you would need to do to have that order enforced.
That’s the basic overview if you were married to the mother. It’s a different situation if you’re an unmarried father, and we’re going to talk about that in a future video.
And we’ve been talking about what to do in the situation if your child’s mother has taken your children and gone out of state.
If you are dealing with this situation and you need help, you should go to dads.law immediately, and consult with one of our attorneys.
This is very important you move quickly because if she gets it filed in another state, then you’re looking at additional expense and time and inconvenience to litigate the case.
So it’s important you act quickly. My name is Brian L. Jackson, I am a Tulsa dads’ rights attorney, I am here to help.