I live in Ohio. I was never married to my sons’ father, who now lives in Florida. Paternity and child support has been established, but there has never been a court order for visitation. I have had sole custody of my children for their entire lives. I recently allowed their father to take them to Florida for a visit. We signed an agreement drafted between the two of us, but again, this was nothing court ordered. He has now told me he has no intention of returning my children. I have been told by an Ohio attorney that I can go get my children because he has no legal right to visitation. However, the Sheriff’s Department in the county the father lives in said there’s nothing I can do because Ohio law does not apply since they are all in Florida right now, and he’s a Florida resident. Does Ohio custody/visitation law apply here because I and the children are Ohio residents? How do I get my children back? Is this now considered kidnapping since he has no legal right to them? Do I need a Florida attorney?
You might need to hire an attorney in both states unfortunately and do it quickly, because the longer he keeps your child the worse it will be, especially if he tries to enroll the child into school. The problem is, if you do an emergency pick up order in Ohio its possible that Florida Sheriffs will not enforce it, so then you might have to get an attorney in Orlando, to domesticate that order in Florida so that the Sheriffs office will go get your child for you. The good thing is that you might be able to get attorneys fees awarded to you. The best thing to do now, is to consult with an attorney in Ohio in regards to how they do child pick up orders, and then consult with an attorney in Orlando. Anytime you are dealing with multi-state jurisdictions, you will run into problems, because courts are loathe to exercise their power if they think they don’t have jurisdiction over the matter.