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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Married couple are separated and living separately, but not

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Married couple are separated and living separately, but not divorced. They have one child, 4 years old. The child lives with the mom, the dad has not been providing financial support for months. The dad has a live-in girlfriend. The mom loses her job, moves to Oklahoma because of a job offer, and takes the child with her. The dad now wants to claim that she can't do that, that he's already filed divorce papers. We don't know if that's true or not, the mom was not served with divorce papers before leaving Florida. Can the dad petition the mom to force her to return the child to Florida, or does Oklahoma law prevail now that they are living in Oklahoma?
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Yes. If there is no court order regarding custody or visitation, he could ask the court to order the mother to return the child to the state for up to 6 months after the date on which the mother removed the child. This prevents one parent from simply taking a child to another jurisdiction to seek more favorable laws or to attempt to deprive the other parent of access to the child and, for that reason, the state retains jurisdiction for 6 months so that the parent left behind can still assert his rights. Further, he could still file for divorce in Florida, as he is a resident, even if the other spouse no longer is.
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