Can My Ex Take My Child Out of the Country? Stop Your Ex from Taking Your Child Abroad

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:09
If your ex is attempting to leave the country with your child, you may be wondering what you can do to stop them. While you likely have a few options at your disposal—especially if you have partial or joint custody—it really is best to...
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If your ex is attempting to leave the country with your child, you may be wondering what you can do to stop them. While you likely have a few options at your disposal—especially if you have partial or joint custody—it really is best to contact a lawyer first. The laws regarding moving a child can be complex, and they differ from state to state. If you want to know more about what this process entails and what your options may be, we’ve got you covered.

Section 1 of 2:

Can my ex take my child out of the country?

  1. Step 1 No, if you have joint/partial custody and your child has no passport.
    So long as both parents share custody, federal law dictates that both parents must sign an agreement form for a child under 16 to obtain a passport. Unless you’ve relinquished your rights entirely, you can simply refuse to allow your child to obtain the passport and your ex won’t be able to take them outside of the country.[1]
    • Set up a CPIAP (Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program) account with the federal government by going to They’ll contact you if your ex requests a passport without you.
    • If your child already has a passport, ask the court to take it away to stop your ex from taking your child out of the country.
  2. Step 2 They can’t if there’s a travel restriction in your custody order.
    Most custody orders will include information on when and how a child is to be moved out of the country or state. If there is anything in your custody order that says your ex requires your approval, or they have to petition the court before moving, they are not allowed to move the child without taking the proper steps first and you should be able to stop them.[2]
    • If you don’t have a custody order, contact an attorney and explain your situation. They may be able to file for emergency custody.[3]
    • There may be a clause in the order explaining that both parents must sign a letter agreeing that one parent may take the child out of the country, or a clause allowing either parent to take the child to see relatives in one specific country.[4]
  3. Step 3 If they have sole custody, they’re usually allowed to travel without your permission.
    If you don’t have custody, your ex is probably able to move the child wherever they want. It depends on where you live though, and you should still talk to an attorney and check your custody order to find out if there’s a way around this.[5]
    • Your best bet in this scenario is to hire an attorney and file a court order to challenge custody and explain to a judge why your ex moving would cause unnecessary harm to the child.
    • In some states, you may be allowed to stop them even if you don’t have custody. Don’t give up automatically here; your best bet is to contact a lawyer for help and explain what’s going on.[6]
  4. Step 4 They may be allowed to travel if you don't have a custody agreement.
    If there is no custody agreement, whether your ex is allowed to take your child out of the country depends on the state you live in. However, in the absence of a custody agreement, you usually don’t have any control over where they go.[7]
    • You can file a court order to try and stop them. Contact a family attorney as soon as possible and explain what’s happening.
    • This is going to be even more difficult if your ex claims they’re just going on vacation.
  5. Step 5 They’re usually allowed to travel without permission if you’re still married.
    If you never got divorced, you don’t have very much control over whether your spouse travels abroad with your child. There’s no court order establishing who is allowed to go where with your child, so there’s nothing to actually enforce.[8]
    • You would need to get divorced, or contact law enforcement and try to demonstrate that your ex is committing child abduction, but that can be a gamble and you may get in trouble yourself if you don’t authentically believe your ex is committing a crime.
  6. Step 6 They can travel...
    They can travel if you were never married and there’s no paternity established. If there’s no proof that this is your child and there’s no legal document tying you and your ex together, you’re going to need to file a paternity case.[9] If your name isn’t on a birth certificate, you need a lawyer. Establishing paternity is extremely complicated depending on where you live.[10]
    • If you are listed on the birth certificate, you have a paternity statement, or a court has previously ruled you’re the father, you can ask the court to prevent your ex from taking the child out of the country.
  7. Step 7 Check your state’s laws and contact a lawyer to know for sure.
    The laws regarding where a single parent is allowed to take their child differ from state to state. Contact a family attorney and ask them to go through the order and state laws; they’ll tell you if they’re allowed to do it.[11]
    • If you absolutely cannot hire a lawyer, look up your state’s laws on custodial interference.
    • This is a complex legal matter, and you really should contact an attorney if you can. If you can’t afford one, look for a non-profit in the area that offers free legal advice to parents. They’ll help you out.
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Section 2 of 2:

How to Prevent Your Ex from Taking Your Child Out of the Country

  1. Step 1 File a court order to ask a judge to prevent your ex from leaving.
    If you can prove to a judge that this move is not in the best interest of the child, and/or demonstrate that the court’s custody order is being ignored, a judge should rule that the child isn’t allowed to leave the state. Contact an attorney as soon as you can and ask them to help you file an order to prevent this.[12]
    • If you only have partial or joint custody, you can petition the court to give you emergency custody if the child has lived in the state you live in for at least the past 6 months.[13]
  2. Step 2 Ask the court to take your child’s passport if they already have one.
    If this is something you’re worried about and you’re currently battling your ex in court over custody, visitation, or child support, ask the judge to take your child’s passport. The judge may take the passport just to be on the safe side while the two of you sort out childcare.[14]
    • You will likely have to provide evidence your ex is planning on cutting ties and running. Work with your attorney to see what you’d need to provide.
  3. Step 3 Enroll in CPIAP if your child doesn’t have a passport.
    The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) is designed for this specific scenario. If your child is under 16 and they don’t have a passport, enroll your child in the CPIAP program. The government will contact you when your ex applies for your child’s passport and ask if you want to allow it. Since both parents need to agree, you can simply decline the passport.[15]
    • For immediate concerns, call 1-888-407-4747 and ask for a prevention officer. Explain what’s going on and they’ll assist you as best as they can.
    • If they aren’t moving any time soon, go to and fill out the application.
  4. Step 4 Ask the court to impose a bond to keep them from fleeing permanently.
    If you’re worried that your ex is going on “vacation” and won’t come back, ask your lawyer to ask the court to impose a bond order. If a judge agrees, they’ll require your ex to deposit money (the bond) with the court before leaving. This way, your ex will have to come back at some point to retrieve their money.[16]
    • You can even ask the court to permanently impose a bond rule for any future travel.
  5. Step 5 Contact the airport they’re flying out of if they’re leaving now.
    Only do this if you have custody or a court order saying they can’t take your child. If your ex is moving fast but you know which airline they’re flying with, call the airline directly and explain the situation. The airline may not allow your ex to board with your child, which should at least buy you some time before you get in front of a judge. Then, call the airport police to let them know what’s going on.[17]
    • Do not worry about causing a fuss if you know you have certain custody rights. Your ex is technically committing child abduction by trying to leave the country in defiance of a court order, and the law should have your back.
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