If I leave my husband can I take my child? (Yes or No?)

In this blog guide, we will try to answer the question ‘Can I leave my husband and take my child?’. In addition, we also look at things to do if you want to leave your husband and take your child, custody laws of the United Kingdom, and What can a  father do if his Wife Leaves with the Children?

Can I leave my husband and take my child?  

The answer is a simple no. If you are planning to leave your husband and wondering if you can take your child with you, you cannot do that. 

Parents have an equal legal right to custody of their child when their relationship ends. No parent has a greater legal right to custody over another parent, even if they did most of the child care or were abused by another parent. Only a court order or agreement changes this equal right. Leaving in such a way can be classified as parental kidnapping since both parents should have equal rights to the child and your actions violate the father’s rights. 

Legally, you cannot simply leave with the kids. Even though this has seemingly happened for years, the mother has no more right to the children than the father, especially if there is no divorce or custody agreement in place. As a married couple, you share joint legal custody of the children. That does not change simply because you have decided to leave your husband.

Even if you are subject to domestic violence, taking your child without your husband’s knowledge is considered illegal. 

Things to do if you want to leave your husband and take your child. 

If you want to leave your husband and take your children with you, it is better to go through the legal ways and make sure everything is done correctly. 

Speak With the Father 

Start with talking to your husband about what you are thinking. As long as you and your child are in a safe situation, meaning there is no abuse in the family home, you should discuss your desire for a divorce with your spouse. If you both can agree to the divorce and how to move forward, things will be easier in the long run. Perhaps you can agree that he will move out during the separation as long as joint custody is maintained, or vice versa. Either way, having this conversation, however difficult, usually makes the process simpler. 

Consult With an Attorney 

Once you have both decided about your divorce, go to the attorney. Both, the mother and father have equal rights and access to their children unless otherwise stipulated by a court order. So, if you want to leave the marriage but still keep your children, you are going to have to go to court. An attorney can help guide you through the process and help you figure out the best way to move forward in gaining custody of your children. 

File for Separation 

 For a couple to be divorced they must be separated and living apart for one year and one day before they can file for divorce. While there is no requirement to have a separation agreement or property settlement, or even legally file for a separation, it is highly advisable that you move forward with these options. In a separation agreement, you and your soon-to-be-ex can make a plan for how property will be divided, what, if any, child or spousal support will be paid, and most importantly, what type of child custody schedule will be kept. By taking this approach, you can avoid potential unpleasantries or legal issues that could arise if you leave without notice and take the children. 

Follow the Custody Agreement 

Assuming that there are no extenuating circumstances or issues that would be unsafe for the child, it is best that both parents amicably follow the agreed-upon custody arrangement. If you are hoping to ultimately gain sole custody, maintaining the visitation schedule and encouraging your child to have a relationship with their father could work in your favor in future hearings. 

Custody laws in the United Kingdom. 

For any couple getting divorced and has a child, it is very important to know about the custody laws. Knowing not just your rights but your responsibilities can also be a major factor in preventing disputes with your ex, and in keeping the whole process as amicable as possible.

The custody of children in the United Kingdom concerns itself with parental disputes and is used to decide which parent will be mainly responsible for a child or children after a divorce or separation. 

In the United Kingdom more so than often, when a couple decides to get a  divorce or separation takes place both parents maintain joint custody of the child.  In simple words, a child will spend half of his/her time with one its parents and the other half with the other. It also means that if the parents are choosing the joint custody route, both participate in the decision making that surrounds the child’s life. 

 The United Kingdom has no specific laws that state that a child/children should live specifically with either the mother or father.

Although, if things get ugly, which they sometimes do, and both parents can not agree on what the living arrangements will be for the child/children, then this will be left down to the decision of the courts. 

In some rare conditions, one parent might be permanently avoided from having any access to their child. In any case, the court has the option to change the choice anytime, should the parent’s conditions change. The parent can re-apply for access whenever, and once an application is made the court may rethink courses of action in the wake of inspecting proof.

However, in unmarried couples, the mother has the automatic right over the child. Unmarried fathers can gain responsibility only if their name is present on the birth certificate and the child is born after December 2013. 

Custody laws in the USA. 

The custody laws for children in the United states of America  after a divorce are governed by the states independently. Thus, each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia (the capital city) has its own law. Although the laws are quite similar. 

Child custody following divorce of the parents is to be decided according to the best interests of the child. The law directs that mothers and fathers be treated equally. Up until the 1960s and 1970s the mother received automatic custody of the child, if she was seen fit under the “Tender Years Doctrine”. However, principles of equality grew in the United States, neither parent has an automatic preference for custody of children based on the sex of the parent.

Like the UK, people in the USA too, maintain a joint custody of the child. When it comes to the decision of the child’s life regarding health, religion, education are all taken with a mutual decision of both the parents. 

For children born out of wedlock paternity needs to be established. Once it is done the court will decide custody according to the best interests of the child. Among the factors a court will consider are the benefits of having a nursing infant in the custody of its mother and the parent or parents who have been caring for the child between the time of birth and the hearing on custody.

Do you always have to visit the court for the agreement of your child’s custody? 

No, parents who can mutually decide where the child will live and how much time they will be spending with the child, need not have to approach the court. Although if the parents fail in creating a mutually agreed parenting plan for the child, they can choose from the below options. 

Mediation: Mediation is a comparatively cheaper and less stressful option. They do not provide a legal solution but help in creating a calm environment in which the parents can work to reach an agreeable solution 

Collaborative law: Under collaborative law, both the parents have separate lawyers, who ry to meet and come to an agreement keeping in consideration both the parent’s wishes. 

Family arbitration: Family arbitration is similar to going to a court, except the fact that here an arbitrator presides. The parties can decide where the hearing takes place and any decision of the arbitrator is legally binding. 

Approaching a court: At last, if nothing works out, then the couple can visit the court, where the judge decides. Initially, the judge asks the parents to try and come to a mutual agreement. Failing this, the court issues a ruling. The court considers the welfare and the feelings, needs, wishes, and desires of the child before giving a judgment. 

What Should You Do If Your Wife Leaves with the Children?

  • Protecting Your Rights as a Father:  As we have seen both the parents share equal rights on a child. As a father, you have specific rights and you need to protect them immediately if your wife leaves with the children. If you simply allow this to happen without any recourse, you may actually lose your rights when the divorce and custody case goes in front of a judge. In order to protect your rights, contact a Family Law attorney specializing in divorce and custody cases immediately. 
  • Get an Agreement in Place: Once you contact an attorney, they should contact your wife’s attorney immediately to begin working on an agreement. If you just show up and take the children, it could turn into a legal mess for you, so be patient and leave it to the attorneys. At the very least, the contact is documented so the courts will know you simply did not allow this to happen and that you are very interested in remaining in your children’s lives.
  • Create Visitation Schedule and Stick to It: If you lose custody of your child the time you spend with your children will be scrutinized heavily. If you plan to fight for custody, make sure you are still involved in all parenting decisions for your children. You also need to make sure when the children are with you, you are there for them. Do not just pick them up and put them under the care of a sitter, family member, or friend. Be there as their father and spend quality time with them. This will matter when the case goes in front of a judge. In addition, do not miss any scheduled visits. Do not take the schedule for granted.  If you have agreed to a schedule, stick to it so missed times cannot be used against you during the custody hearing.


In this blog guide, we have tried to answer the question ‘Can I leave my husband and take my child?’. In addition, we have also looked at things to do if you want to leave your husband and take your child, custody laws of the United Kingdom, and what can a  father do if his Wife Leaves with the Children?

FAQs: If I leave my husband can I take my child?

Who comes first in a marriage, wife or child?

Partners Should Come First in a family. This does not mean that you can ignore your children. But it is said that children find comfort and security in their parents’ healthy relationship. Therefore nurturing your relationship with your spouse can indirectly lead to a comfortable life for your child. 

Can a child ruin a marriage?

Having a child is no walk on the cake. It can make you miserable, but you are miserable together. Having children may decrease your satisfaction, but increases general happiness. 

Do couples fight more after a baby?

It’s very common for couples to argue more after the arrival of a new baby. Research shows that first-time parents argue on average 40% more after their child is born. It’s no surprise, really because both the parents are under more pressure, have less free time, and are getting less sleep than usual.

Should I stay in an unhappy marriage for my child?

Having said that, there is no reason to believe that staying together at any cost is better for children than divorce. In fact, when parents who are unhappy together and engage in unhealthy relationship habits stay together “for the kids” it can often do more harm than good.



United Kingdom: Understanding Child Custody Laws