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Can I leave the state with my son in order to escape an abusive relationship with his Dad? Can he stop us from leaving legally?

Manassas, VA |

My bf (never married) has become increasingly mentally, emotionally and physically abusive to me in front of our son who is 20 months now and starting to understand.Seeing that pain in his eyes has given me the strength to want to leave, for good this time. I have some family out of state who are willing to open there home to and support us in order to break the cycle of abuse. I want to know if his father, who is named so on his BC, can stop me? I fear that trying to take it to court will complicate matters worse. The father has a long list of misdemeanors, recent abuse charges, has had his driving privileges revoked and is currently on supervised probation and will soon be incarcerated. I don't want to keep our son from his dad, but he uses him to control me! HELP if i stay, its with him

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Attorney answers 2


You can live anywhere you want. A court has the authority to decide where the child lives.

If you leave, the father can either do nothing, or file for custody/visitation. For the next six months after you leave, Virginia courts, most likely Prince William JDR court, will have jurisdiction to decide custody (and child support).

If the father does nothing for six months, then the home state jurisdiction changes to where the child is. Now, father has to litigate out of state.

Deborah Ann Johnson Wilson

Deborah Ann Johnson Wilson


Also, if the father petitions the court, the statute governing matters of custody/ visitation will take into consideration any history of abuse. Therefore, if you feel that you are in danger, it would be wise to contact the proper authorities to document the abuse. Good luck~


Though I do not practice in VA, I have some thoughts that may provide a useful answer.
In CA, you could leave not only the home but the state. However, you wold need to undertake certain measures rather rapidly. Among them would be to file re custody and to promptly notify father of child's whereabouts. Though VA may to some extent have at least initial jurisdiction, I believe that there is an interstate compact [which VA may or may not belong to] that requires either court to decide placement of kid and, fairly quickly to decide what court has jurisdiction.
Many cities have shelters for abused women and their children. You probably should seek some assistance with them.
As to Dad being aboe to do much about contesting where the chile lives, based on your post, I would think it unreasonable that some court would give him physical custody.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

Deborah Ann Johnson Wilson

Deborah Ann Johnson Wilson


I agree that it is highly unlikely that a judge would grant the father physical custody. Unfortunately, if a court establishes his right to visitation this will make it difficult--if not impossible- for the mother to leave the area without infringing upon his court ordered visitation rights. This is the unfortunate, albeit, practical reality of relocation cases.

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