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Leaving domestic violence situation, can the child come with?

Seattle, WA |

I know a person who is leaving a very dangerous domestic violence situation. They are leaving legally, with the help of social services - to be moved out of state to an undisclosed safe place and are not to contact anyone they have known. New identities be givn. The relationship to the abuser is not biological to this person, nor romantic interest. Its a significant relationship to a parent. This person also has a child - toddler.
All are being threatened with death - adults have been physically abused.

My question is - this person has shared custody with the childs father. The father is not a threat - is not involved in the situation. But also hasnt seen the child in months. A parenting plan has been started with court, but not finished. Can this person legally leave with the child?

Thank you for your answer Jennifer, that was very helpful! I will be sure to let her know. I spoke with her more about her PP last night, and she has told me that she had filed the proposed parenting plan on the childs father, but he never responded. The court then sent her a notice for default stating she was the childs guardian and he was to live with her. She put in the PPP that she has the child 24/7 for physical - and she makes all legal decisions. Basically she proposed full custody. Does that mean the father no longer has enforceable legal rights? Would that make it so she can legally leave without getting into trouble for it?

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Attorney answers 2


Yikes! Sounds like a horrible situation! You say a "parenting plan has been started", but it's not clear if there are orders in place. If there are orders in place, and she violates those orders, she can be pursued for contempt by the father. Even if there's no order in place, it's probably still not a good idea to simply disappear. The State has a confidential address program whereby DV victims are given a PO Box in Olympia to use to get mail and for some service purposes. She should probably talk to her social worker about getting one of those and changing her address with the court, and maybe getting a proxy address for service. Obviously, her safety and the safety of the children are paramount, but there are ways of going about this to protect her safety while protecting her from contempt actions.


If it truly is a parenting plan, a Notice of Intent to relocate would be required. Likely the other parent will not cause a problem. If the law is not followed, a complaint of contempt or custodial interference is possible. Although that is an issue, the biggest issue is safety. In this day and age I can almost always find someone. Huge steps need to be taken to protect yourself. Ms. Andrews is right on about the confidentiality program. However, not seeing the child for a few months or a few years does not terminate parental rights. The father may very well be freaked out when he finds out about the situation. Seattle has some great domestic violence resources. Not the least of which is through the YWCA. The confidentiality program info is at:

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