Can a Parent Keep the Child from the Other Parent Without a Court Order in Michigan?

Can a Parent Keep the Child from the Other Parent Without a Court Order in Michigan?

While many distressing things can occur during a custody battle, few scenarios are as anxiety-inducing as the possibility of your spouse refusing to let you see your child. While court orders can prevent this from occurring in most circumstances, there are situations where it is legal for one parent to keep a child from the other parent. This is a complicated area of the law, and managing this type of situation requires the counsel and assistance of a knowledgeable Michigan child custody attorney

Does One Parent Automatically Have Custody Before a Court Order Is in Place?

In Michigan, if the parents were not married when the child was born, the mother has initial sole custody until a court order says otherwise. This means the mother can make decisions for the child and is not required to get permission from the father to move with the child. However, if the father has legally established paternity, he can file to seek court-ordered custody and parenting time rights. If the parents were married when the child was born, both have equal custody rights until a court order changes that.

Can My Spouse Be Charged with Parental Kidnapping?

In most situations, a parent cannot be charged with parental kidnapping for taking or keeping their own child, even without the other parent’s consent. The key exception is if they violate a valid custody order that is already in place. So, if you do not yet have a custody order from the court, your spouse likely cannot face parental kidnapping charges for refusing to return your child or fleeing with them. 

However, if you take your child to a safe location like a domestic violence shelter to protect them from immediate harm, that can serve as a defense against parental kidnapping charges even if it violates an existing custody order.

How Can I Get an Emergency or Temporary Order?

If you have serious concerns that your spouse may abscond with your child, you can seek an emergency or temporary custody order from the court to prevent that from happening legally. These orders can be put in place quickly while your divorce or custody case is still pending. In extreme cases where you fear your spouse may take your child out of the country, you can ask the judge to hold the child’s passport. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to determine if emergency orders may be necessary and warranted in your situation.

Contact an Experienced Michigan Child Custody Lawyer Today

The prospect of not being able to see your child can be one of the most distressing things imaginable. When your child’s other parent is the source of these fears, emotions can run particularly high. However, it is essential to remember that you can seek help. The experienced and skilled legal professionals at The Smith Law Offices understand the challenges you are facing, and we are ready to seek a legal solution that can give you peace of mind and support your child’s best interests. Call us today or contact us online for a confidential consultation to learn more.

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