Can I go pick up my child or children from the other parent if there is no court order?
The answer is: it all depends. Depends on whether there is a court order, or if the parents are married or not, depends on whether the other parent will obey a court order if there is one.
Unmarried Parents: If the parents are unmarried and the dad has not established paternity then he has no legal rights to the child. Mother can ask police to get child back on grounds that dad has no legal rights, but it is up to the police as to how involved they will get. In a case like this if police will not help and the dad (assuming dad has the kid) will not cooperate the mom can ask the court for writ of attachment, which is a signed order by a judge directing the parent to return the child and directing the police to physically remove the child if the dad will not obey the order. (ATC does not do this it requires a local attorney to go to court to ask the judge for the order). Now if the mom is withholding the kid from a dad who has not established paternity or custody then he really has no right to go get the kid without mom’s permission. His remedy is to establish his parental rights, that is where ATC comes in.
Married Parents: If parents were married then they both have legal rights to the kid. In this situation unless the child(ren) are in clear and present danger the police will not get involved and will probably tell the parents to go to court to get a custody order which the court can enforce if the other parent tries to withhold the child.
Parents with Orders: As long as the other parent will obey the court order if it is one parents time to have the child by all means go get the kids (this also works if the parent who took the kids has a protective order against them to stay away from the kids). The problem is that many of the parents calling ATC have orders which the other parent will not obey. In these cases if the order is clear call police to help get the child(ren) back. If the police cannot get the other parent to return child then will have to ask the court for a writ of attachment through a local attorney, this is the fastest way to have child returned. If time not of the essence then parent can file a motion to enforce and or contempt asking for order that the child be returned and that the other parent be punished.
Note, If someone other than the other parent has the child(ren) the parent has the right to get them back and the police should be able to help the parent get the child back. Also many parents call and want to know what to do if the other parent has kidnapped their child. Unless these is a clear violation of a court order there is no parental kidnapping it is not kidnapping for one parent to take their child anywhere even without permission from the other parent. Most cases where one parent has taken the child and will not be return them can be handled per the above. Good luck to all you ATC’ers out there and hope this is helpful!