Baby's mother took her and moved to VA; won't communicate

My ex-girlfriend took our 2-month-old child (born in NC) from our home in NC to VA 3 months ago. She has refused to discuss custody/visitation/co-parenting and will not even communicate at this point. I do not know where they are living or who is taking care of my daughter when her mother is at work. We lived together in NC for a year before the baby was born. My name is on the birth certificate and I was completely involved in the birth and care of my child; my ex and her family acknowledge that I am an excellent father. She is now threatening to file something with the court in VA, but will not tell me why or what it is.

Because of financial and transportation problems, I have not been able to get to VA to try to talk to my ex (who says she will not see me) or see my child. I know I need to take some kind of action, but don’t want to start a "custody war” with my daughter’s mother, as I don’t believe that would be good for our child. I do want joint custody and as much visitation as possible so that I, my parents, and other family members can be involved in my daughter’s life. How can I get my ex to bring our child back to NC, come to a custody/visitation agreement, and co-parent our child?

My ex was born in VA, but moved to NC 4 years ago to live and work for the state. She went back to VA 3 mos. ago. As far as I know, she has been living with friends and relatives, and has a part time job. Is she still a legal resident of NC?

Thank you.

Based on her leaving the state with your child, you have the grounds to obtain an emergency custody order, citing that she left NC to evade jurisdiction.

Temporary emergency custody orders may be entered in order to provide continuing stability in a deteriorating situation, to preserve the status quo, to prevent a child’s removal from the jurisdiction, to return the child to an appropriate custodian, and/or to protect the child from harm, neglect or abuse. Emergency temporary orders may be entered ex parte upon a verified pleading or affidavit. “Ex parte” means that only one side tells the court its version of events. The court must review a temporary emergency custody order within ten days, at which time the other side has the opportunity to present his or her own evidence. After the court has heard the evidence from each side, the order will be continued (kept in force), modified, or terminated (dissolved).

Thank you for your response. How long do I have to file something? The baby was born Nov. 15, 2014; they left Jan. 22 2015. I don’t believe mother has established residency in VA, as she lived in NC the previous 4 years and has been staying with friends and relatives.

Would an emergency custody order force the mother to return to NC?

Thank you.

I would go ahead and file your complaint for emergency custody ASAP, you want to take action before she has been in Virginia for six months with the child.

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Thank you for your reply. I considered filing for emergency custody, but assumed it was too late, as the “emergency” occurred 3 months ago. Also, I think it would be traumatic for my daughter to be taken from her mother. That’s why I asked if the emergency custody filing would make her mother come back to NC with her. We have no DV issues.

I did file the Mecklenburg Co. Family Court self-help Custody documents; they do not say “emergency custody”, just “custody and visitation”. Their first step is mandatory mediation.

Could you please help me clear up my confusion about the 6-month jurisdictional issue? I thought jurisdiction would, as you said, switch from NC to VA when they have been living there for 6 months. Other legal info I read said that jurisdiction would transfer when the child turns 6 months. She was born Nov. 15, 2014. They left Jan. 22, 2015.

I truly appreciate you answering all my questions. Your monthly service would be a Godsend; I desperately need it and am going to sign up as soon as I can swing it financially.

Thank you again.

It is great that you started the process. Jurisdictional issues and child custody can be complicated sometimes. Jurisdiction is mandated by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). According to the UCCJEA, continuing and exclusive jurisdiction for child custody litigation exists in the court of the child’s “home state.” Home state is defined as the state where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months prior to the commencement of the proceeding, or since birth for children younger than six months. Once an order is entered by a North Carolina court, jurisdiction will stay in North Carolina unless all parties are no longer in the state; so as long as you remain in NC after the Order has been issued, NC will retain jurisdiction.

Thank you!