I think my partner/spouse is a bad parent.  Can I just move out with our child?


Moving out and taking a child, without the other's permission, is never a good idea - unless there are immediate safety concerns.  Family Court Judges do not like it when one parent takes a child away from the other.  It looks either like kidnapping or like the parent who took the child is trying to get an unfair advantage.  In addition, taking unilateral action, without concern for the child's relationship with the other parent is viewed by many judges as bad parenting.  That does not help.   For more on the repercussions of moving away with the child, watch the video below.

If you are worried about your child's safety, then you should go to court and get an emergency order for custody.  Then you will have a judge's "permission" to leave with the child. Doing that makes you seem like a more reasonable, less impulsive person, and allows you to explain your concerns and have a judge agree that you have a legitimate reason to take the child, before you do that.  This page explains the steps on how to get an emergency custody order

There are some critical things you need to know before even putting together your court documents for an emergency custody order.  First, you need to understand what factors a judge considers when making any custody order.  Those are explained in this podcast and on this webpage.  You need to know those child custody factors so you tell the judge the right things when presenting your case. 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

You also need to know what custody and means and the different types of custody.  Knowing that will help you consider what parenting regime will work best for your child.  They are explained in the video below and on this podcast

For more about children in separation and divorce, check out this page, which has many more links to useful resources.

Guide to the Basic of Ontario Family Law (Book)

There is also a lot more information on child custody, access, the steps in court and the alternatives to court in this easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law.  It will also help you avoid making a lot of serious mistakes that could really jeopardize your child custody case.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

However, because so much is at stake in a child custody cases, and you really want to protect your child and make sure that a court does not make the wrong order, you really should speak with a good family law lawyer.  A good family law lawyer will tell you how the law applies to your specific situation and work with you to come up with the best plan to make sure that your child gets the best result possible.  Good lawyers are also very persuasive to judges and can get you results you could not get on your own - which is very important when the welfare of your child is a stake. John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law, who is renown for his concern for children and children’s rights and has protected children in many difficult and high profiles custody cases.  To contact him, and get a prompt response to your concerns, please call the number above, or use the form below.

Please also feel free to comment on this page, by using the form below,  or share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page. 


Lillian LaRosa - Attorney at LaRosa/Toland Law Offices

I liked your response. There is too much 'self help' which can rebound to the detriment of the party who has not informed himself in advance of taking action. I can foresee that taking the child would result in police action since in Massachusetts the mother in unwed situations is the presumed custodial parent with legal authority unless father obtains redress from the Probate Court.

Kathleen Robbins - Attorney - Mediator

This dad who is apparently married to the mother needs to establish that he is dad - either through DNA testing or, here in Texas, he and the mother could sign a document before a notary called an Acknowledgment of Paternity to establish paternity.

John Schuman, C.S. - Partner Leading the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP

In Ontario Law, the concept of parent is broader than just biology or DNA.  And, where people are actively involved in parenting a child, they are both presumed entitled to continue to do that. So, whether you are mother or father, taking the child away may have serious consequences if there are no legitimate safety concerns.

Marco Calabrese, Attorney - Int.Family Lawyer- Assistance to Expats

You're not married: first wrong move. 

You chose not be be fully protected by family law. Your rights are quite blurred in this case. 

Second: moving with children without the other parent's permission is kidnapping. 

Unfortunately the answer varies widely from state to state. Unlike Texas, New Jersey presumes a married man is the father of his wife’s children. The acknowledgement of paternity isn't necessary where the parties are married. In New Jersey, absent a custody order, either party has a right to physical custody of the child. However, I recommend to dads who are going to leave and take the child, that they file a custody case first to avoid possible adverse treatment in a case filed by the wife. Yes, I know it shouldn't happen, but there is judicial prejudice where the child is an infant and if he doesn't start the case, he may find the wife trying to get an emergency order in her favour. 

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