Child Travel Restrictions and Withholding Child from Other Parent

Live at Five’s board certified family attorney, Sonya Coffman, answers questions submitted by Southeast Texas KFDM News viewers. These questions include:

  • Can a parent take their child over state lines without the primary parent’s permission?
  • Can a parent withhold children from the other parent?


well authorities found country singer Mindy McCready and her five-year-old son last week crouched in a bedroom closet of a vacant house in Arkansas McCready took the child from that dad's Florida house over Thanksgiving and did not return him what would the criminal and civil implications be Live at Five family attorney Sonya Coffman joins us now with the answers are what a strange case sad isn’t it that truly is but you hear about at all the time people wanting to take their child from the other parent and not even from the other parent in this case it was from the court-appointed guardian and I think that's even harder for a parent to accept that they don't have the absolute right over their child the question is if this were in Texas what would the implications be she would potentially face criminal and civil implications for that first of all criminally it's a state jail felony for interference with child custody and that carries a potential sentence not less than a hundred eighty days if not more than three years plus a potential fine of up to ten thousand dollars and oh yeah did we mention she's pregnant right now too with twins I think when you and I were talking off camera about this case I told you her conduct probably justifies what the judge rules because she is clearly not acting in the best interests of that child time can you imagine how traumatized he would be hiding in a closet from law enforcement right well let's go our KFDM News Facebook page because we've got lots of questions uh this one wants to know is it legal for the father to take his daughter over the state lines without the mother's permission he didn't bother to mention it until after the fact doesn't specify in the divorce papers on travel limitations for him on the weekends the answer is yes he can take the child across state lines unless there is a restriction on him for doing that when it's his time he has to use good judgment but he can certainly take the child across state lines okay another question I have custody of my sons mom pays no child support during the divorce we each agreed to pay half of private school tuition boys are now in public school can I get the papers modified myself or do we have to go before a judge to get an enforceable order you have to have the judge sign a court order if they were each in agreement on their own that's fine but it's not enforceable okay I think we have time for one more question when a father takes his kids from the mother and doesn't allow her to see them without going to court but he has a lot of charges against him is she allowed to go get the kids when he leaves with someone and someone else is there that’s sort of similar to the Mindy McCready issue isn’t it this mother thinks that she has the absolute right to get her child at any time depends on what the court order says if it's the father's time under the court order she does not have the right to go and get the child even if the child is at a sitter alright Sonya as always we appreciate it thanks for having me thanks for stopping by and you can that log on to our KFDM News Facebook page once a month when Sonya answers your question