“I live in New Jersey and my three year old daughter’s father lives Illionois. He has seen her but a handful of times since she was born. She does recognize him as her father, as she has pictures of him, and until recently spoken with him on the phone daily. I have used all of my vacation time for the last two years to take her on trips out there to see him and his family. He has yet to file for visitation, however, he does not pay me any child support. He also has a past of abusing drugs and alcohol, which I did not find out about until after I became pregnant. While I was pregnant, he stole my paycheck regularly, and his drug dealer even threatened to kill me. Would he be able to take my daughter out of state for visitation? He has threatened to do so before. I am afraid that he would try to run off with her as he can be unstable.”
For most non-co-habitating parents, and especially for parents who do not trust each other, it is important to get orders from the Court regarding custody and visitaiton. Under New Jersey Statute 9:2-3. “Until the court determines the final custody of the minor child and unless the parties agree otherwise, the court shall determine temporary custody based upon the best interests of the child with due regard to the caretaking arrangement that previously existed. No child shall be taken forcibly or against the will of the parent having custody by the other parent without a court order.” Therefore, based on your status quo, you would be in a good position to be awarded custody. The Court also might order him to pay support, which your daughter could probably use.
If there are reasons for the Court to restrict your ex’s access to your daughter, then he might not be able to have out of state, unsupervised visitation. Convictions? History of abuse? Domstic violence? Absent some factor like this, by he time your daughter can fly on a plane supervised by flight attendants (or if your ex can afford to fly both directions with your daughter), there is a chance that a court could order timeshare to be exercised in Illinois. Check with a local attorney, but think about getting orders in place especially if you think there is a chance that he might take off with your daughter on a schedule to which you would never agree.