The Bay State’s Child Jurisdiction Provision Revealed

Non-custodial parents of Massachusetts children can rest assured that the state has their parental interests at heart, at least where their child's travel is concerned.

A Bay State provision under the child welfare laws requires a custodial parent to gain the consent of the non-custodial parent before taking the child across state lines. If that consent isn't obtained, and the custodial parent continues to pursue removing the child from the state, the non-custodial parent may file an emergency action in the state's courts to keep the child in Massachusetts.

According to the provision, Massachusetts' courts have the right to "require security and issue writs and processes" to hold a child in-state or bring him or her back from out of state.

Chris and Chelse Dall, a couple in Connecticut, are trying to compel the courts to bring back Chris Dall's son Kieran, whose mother-Dall's ex-wife-has taken Kieran to South Africa to live with her and her new boyfriend. As the non-custodial parent, Dall gave the mother, Johanna Bayley, permission to leave the country for a short vacation, but not to establish residence.

Kieran has lived with his mother in Florida since Bayley and Dall divorced in 2005. The son had recently asked if he could move to Connecticut to live with his father, step-mother, and half-brother.

If the Dalls lived in Massachusetts, Massachusetts law would compel Kieran to return to the Bay State. Currently, however, Connecticut does not have a similar law, although it does have laws against parental kidnapping. The Dalls have hired lawyers and are working with the U.S. State Department Office of Children's Issues and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to bring Kieran back home.