What To Do If Your Spouse Takes The Children Out of State

Critical Information To Know If Your Spouse Takes Your Kids Out Of State

This member of My AZ Lawyers was watching Sins of Our Mother on Netflix last night, which was largely set in the Chandler/Gilbert area. Without spoiling too much, it contains police body-cam footage of one of Lori Vallow’s husbands calling the police because Lori believed she was a god, threatened to murder him, and fled with their children. While the police did issue a request to have her sent for psychological evaluation, they had to tell the husband she was ultimately within her rights to take the children wherever she pleased. Many unfortunate events unfolded after this, but it had me thinking about what our clients should do if they find themselves in similar circumstances. If you are having issues with a spouse or ex traveling with your child(ren) out of state without your permission, call 480-448-9800 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys in Phoenix.

Taking the children out of state

Why Lori Was Allowed To Take The Children

By the time this member of My AZ Lawyers fell asleep (without her sleeping pill for the first time in months!), Lori was on her fourth husband and had 3 children, one of each with her 3 previous husbands. Her child with her 3rd husband, Charles, was adopted. When the parents are married or there is clear paperwork dictating who the parents are, like in an adoption, paternity of the child is presumed. But establishing paternity wasn’t enough to urge the police to go out and find Lori. This is because while they were still married, they shared equal custody rights over shared children. That means until the couple had some type of formal custody orders in place, Lori could take the children out of the state or even out of the country without intervention from the law.

Unfortunately, Charles may have fallen victim to reverse-sexism here. It’s hard to imagine that if a woman called the police and said her husband threatened to kill her and ran off with the kids, the police would tell her, “Too bad, he’s within his rights.” Threatening to murder your spouse is an act of domestic violence that can be used to obtain a protective order, and children can be included on the protective order as well.

Terms To Include In Your Custody Agreement

If you are in the midst of a divorce with your spouse, there may be some terms you should include in any informal and formal, temporary and permanent child custody agreements you make. For example, you can include a clause that if either parent wants to take the child out of state, they must provide the other parent X days’ notice. Or, the other parent must consent to the child being taken out of state. These terms can be similar or stricter for taking the child out of the country. If a new partner or other relative is a risk factor in taking the child, you might want to include a clause that the child not be left alone with that person.

Informal custody agreements can be easier if you and your spouse are splitting amicably and leaving the state or country isn’t a concern for you. However, these informal agreements aren’t enforceable and won’t mean much to the police if your ex runs off with your children. If you are legitimately concerned about parental kidnapping during a divorce, you need to make sure that your agreement is verified by the court. If the orders have been signed off by a judge, the police have the authority to look for your spouse and children if the orders have been violated.

Emergency Child Custody In Arizona

The state of Arizona allows parents to file emergency custody orders, also known as temporary orders, to deal with situations in which they believe their child(ren) is in immediate danger. There are three requirements to request temporary custody orders in Arizona:

  1. The party seeking the orders has already requested custody orders or a custody modification, or filed a request for custody orders or a custody modification in conjunction with the application for temporary orders.
  2. Someone is about to cause serious, immediate bodily harm to another person or a person’s health, safety, and welfare is in jeopardy.
  3. Why the emergency is so serious, i.e., why the other party shouldn’t be noticed, why the case should be heard before others who have been waiting

While Charles tried to explain his wife’s mental state to the police, they didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. Lori had been recording podcasts about the end of times and had created a soul-ranking system with her future fourth husband with plans to eradicate any dark souls that had been turned into zombies by demonic spirits.  Had this been a science-fiction podcast, this would be no cause for concern. But to the average listener, the podcast sounded like the ramblings of two women who were extremely high on something highly illegal.

Orders of Protection

Protective orders, otherwise known as restraining orders, can be used to protect a party from a dangerous spouse while divorcing. If the party seeking the protective order shares a child with the defendant, the party should request an order of protection rather than an injunction against harassment. A person seeking a protective order can also include their children and other family members on the protective order.

The order of protection is effective once it is served on the defendant. This must be done within one year of the court granting it. The order will remain in effect for one year from the date of service. A party can request more places than just their home on a protective order. Protective orders can also prevent a defendant from going to the plaintiff’s school, work, or any other places they frequent. A plaintiff can also request that the defendant not contact them by phone, email, or any other method of communication while the protective order is in place.


AZPOINT is the Arizona Protective Order Initiation and Notification Tool. Someone who needs a protective order can use this site to fill out the forms necessary for a protective order and file them. Arizona law provides that there are no fees for requesting or appealing a protective order, except in certain situations in which an employer seeks an injunction against harassment against its employee.

Family Law Expertise For Dire Situations

If you are seeking a protective order, emergency custody orders, or are in a similar family law situation, there is no time for mistakes. Our divorce and custody lawyers are experienced in dealing with a variety of circumstances and can act quickly when necessary. The process will be less arduous when you have a knowledgeable attorney completing and filing paperwork on your behalf. Your attorney can also appear with you at any hearings held regarding your family’s safety. All of this can contribute to more favorable rulings that can protect your children’s well-being. At AZ Family Law Lawyers, we offer fair prices with affordable down payments to get started. Your initial consultation is 100% confidential and free. To get scheduled, click here or call 480-448-9800.


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