Can my wife move out of state with our 19 mth old without my consent? We are not legally separated yet nor are there any papers drawn up in regards to child custody or anything for that matter. Do I have any rights as a father in NC?
I am not an attorney
Yes, technically, she can. As long as there are no custody issues pending, or a custody order in place (whether temp or not), she can take your child anywhere in the US without your consent.
HOWEVER, if she does, you can always petition the court to force her return. I took my son and left the state with him when we left my ex (huge safety issues, and I went to my nearest family), and he was planning to file for emergency custody to try to get the judge to force me to return to the state, or to give custody to my ex. I filed first and fortunately for me though, the judge did allow me to stay in the new state because of issues with my ex and the fact that he (my ex) also agreed that it was best for our child to be with me, and that where we went was safe for us. He also moved to the new state for about a year before leaving again.
All that said, if you are not a danger to your child, and she is leaving just to hurt you, or to try to avoid the jurisdiction of NC, that is not good for her, and you can have her ordered to return to the state with the child, or if she does not want to return to the state, the courts can grant you primary custody.
Your best bet would be to file a motion for custody to be established, and once that’s done, she cannot leave the state with the child (for living purposes) at that point. She can still take the child on vacation and such out of state.
If a parent in NC was to leave this state taking the child with the intention of not returning that would be grounds for the other parent to file an action for emergency custody to have the child returned to their home state. You and your wife have equal rights to the child, she cannot unilaterally make the decision to move out of state with the children. In the event she does so, you can file for an Emergency Order for their return and the pursue custody and visitation through the court system. If you do not file such an action, there is absolutely nothing you can legally do to prevent her from taking the child out-of-state, as there is no Order in place. Since there is no Order, each of you are the legal parent of the child, and accordingly have equal rights to him. You will not be able to have her charged with kidnapping or anything like that under those circumstances. I would recommend that you see a lawyer immediately to create a plan of action.