If your court judgment/decree does not make custody orders, then each parent still has joint custody
, and either can legally exercise jurisdiction over the child. As a practical matter, this means that your ex could move the child to California on Monday, and you could pick up the child and return to North Carolina on Tuesday.
Naturally, this is an impossible situation, and what it really means is that you do not have an uncontested divorce
. Assuming that the court were to sign off, you would still have to return and petition for custody and support orders
. So, you may want to think about hiring a lawyer and making that happen, before things get really ugly.
Re your ex relocating to California, yes, that sort of thing happens all the time. Unless you can show that you spend as much time parenting the child as your ex, and that you have a very strong emotional bond, then the other parent, if her bond and time is stronger and more consistent, can get an order permitting relocation to another State.
Whether or not this would actually happen is pure speculation.
You have a choice: you can try to straighten out the relcoation issue now, or you can wait for your ex to leave with the child, and then go to court and ask for orders to have the child returned. The court won't be happy that the other parent picked up and left, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the court will order the parent to return, either.
It's a bit of a crapshoot. If you act now, you will at least know exactly where you stand.
For a family law
attorney referral, see these links: ABA
. If you can't afford a lawyer then try legal aid
Hope this helps.