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'My brother's fiancé took their son and moved to California. Can she legally do this?' UPDATED 3X

'My brother's fiancé took their son and moved to California. Can she legally do this?' UPDATED 3X


Truth is stranger than fiction, and wild stories play out every day in people's relationships.

"Brother's fiancé (as of now ex) took their son and moved to California. Can she do this? Is there anything he can do at this point?"

My brother and his fiancé (now ex as of today) had been together for over 8 years and were two months from their wedding. They have an 8-month-old son. His ex is a nurse practitioner and apparently had been expressing the desire to move for quite some time as there aren’t many job opportunities where they live and she hated it there in rural-ish Indiana.

My brother has been in his role for 13 years and it is pretty regional to there as he has worked his way up to a niche position that isn’t really transferable so he didn’t want to move. He said they had been fighting about moving for over a year now. Well today my brother got home from work and his fiancé and son were nowhere to be found.

After hours of panic (calling the police and h*spitals), his ex calls him back and said that she just got off a plane and is in California with the baby and is moving there. She sent him a picture of a deed that shows she bought a house there a few months back when she flew out there for a supposed “girls trip” with a few of her friends- it seems like she was getting her ducks in a row.

She also told him she already accepted a job, arranged for her car to be shipped out there, and has arranged for childcare for the baby. She told him he’s more than welcome to come out there with them but that she will not be coming back to Indiana and has already gotten a lawyer and they can figure out custody arrangements between lawyers if he decides not to come and be with them.

She told him since they are not married and she has established residence there, gotten a job, and arranged for childcare-his choices are to either come out there with them or he can establish paternity and maybe see his son in the summers. Is this true?

My brother is gutted. He’s been crying and throwing up for the last 4 hours. He’s already contacted a lawyer and is meeting with him first thing tomorrow morning. I’m just wondering what to anticipate? It’s such a horrible situation. I can’t believe she would do something like this!

The internet had a lot to say in response.

Redhook420 wrote:

Federal law states the the child has to live in the new state for 6 months before that state has jurisdiction over custody matters. He needs to file for custody in Indiana ASAP.

CadenceQuandry wrote:

He's not in the birth certificate. So he has no legal grounds for custody at the moment. Until he proves paternity, he cannot even file for custody.

petmama1234567 wrote:

Together 8 years and he didn’t question why he wasn’t on the birth certificate??

OP responded:

He is. But apparently in Indiana, according to the lawyer he spoke to this morning, being on the birth certificate does not establish paternity if a couple is not married In Indiana. He would have had to sign a paternity affidavit or gotten a court order.

queenlegolas wrote:

So what's the next move? Emergency custody after paternity test? There's no way she established residency there, not long enough.

OP responded:

He filed today for a court order to get the baby tested and to establish paternity. That’s all I know as of now.

Bird_Brain4101112 wrote:

I just want to point out as a rando who doesn’t know your brother or any one involved, all o have to go on is what you’ve shared. This level of subterfuge is the kind of stuff I’d expect to see from someone escaping an ab*sive relationship.

I am not saying that’s the case here but from the outside, she spent months planning to leave and dipped out on a random day with no warning. That’s kind of extreme for not just wanting to live in Indiana.

OP responded:

Yeah I’m not naive enough to think I know all that goes in behind closed doors. I would like to think I know my brother pretty well and don’t think that’s the case but I also don’t think you ever really know anyone either.

She did text him her new address though so I'm going to go out on a limb and say there wasn’t any ab*se because I don’t know any women leaving an ab*sive situation who would give their ab*ser their new addres. She did talk to my mom earlier and told her she loves my brother and wants him to come out there with them. She just couldn’t stay in Indiana and felt like she couldn’t grow there.

Jealous_Tie_8404 wrote:

Wow. Obviously he needs to see a lawyer immediately. But honestly, from your description of how things happened, it sounds like she was Katie Holmes divorcing Tom Cruise levels of meticulous. I am in awe of this woman. She’s 8 months postpartum and she bought a house got a new job and planned a cross country move while simultaneously planning a fake wedding?

And she did that in secret and kept up appearances so well that her live-in boyfriend and father of her child suspected nothing?


OP wrote a comment explaining more about their brother's job.

He makes about 200k but also in an area where the average household income is like 40k. You can still buy a nice house out there for less than 100k. And he didn’t want to move because of his job. He’s doesn’t have a degree or anything like that but started there when he was 22 after he got out of the Air Force and has worked his way up and was at the right place at the right time with his role now.

He does has pretty amazing benefits out there he’s grandfathered into -pension, 401k with 8 or 10% match-I can’t remember which- free health insurance for him and whoever is on his insurance, 6 weeks PTO, 5 months paid parental leave, etc. and while his job isn’t niche, the position he’s worked his way into is and is not something he could just go do anywhere and be at that level if that makes sense.

I’m bad at examples but think of an attending cardiologist who wanted to switch specialties and be a heart surgeon. They wouldn’t be able to just go to another hospital and do that. They would have to start from the bottom again and be a resident and then it would take years and years and years to get back to the level they were at as a cardiologist.

It’s kind of a similar situation with his position except like I said, it was kind of a right place/right time situation and it would be pretty rare for an opportunity like that to come twice in a lifetime.She was employed as a NP but I’m not sure if she was happy on her role and I think she wanted to be somewhere with more job options.

A day later, OP shared an update.

I’ve talked to him a lot today and he told me she brought up moving when she was pregnant and he asked her where she wanted to go and she said California and that they looked into it and the kind of jobs he could get and their household income and as going to be around the same but with a much HCOL.

He said he told her he was not really interested in moving to California anyways or giving up his job but they could look at other places where they would both like to live and she said no and was insistent it had to be California. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I don’t even live in the same state as them and obviously I’m not involved in their marriage. But that’s what he told me earlier.

Comments kept coming in.

Ok_Ebb_538 wrote:

The unfortunate thing is that Indiana has basically outlawed a ton of prenatal care. So that's an issue for her health, and I'm glad she had a healthy pregnancy and delivery. But no guarantee for the next one.

In addition, Indiana is not good for medical professionals. She could be sued or go to jail or watch a patient die from an ectopic pregnancy. No thanks. Sacramento is probably the best large city with reasonable cost of living in CA. (I live in CA.)

But what he said to you is nonsense. He would look at other places but won't give up his job? How is that even gonna work. It makes no sense. He just never looked at any options other than to argue. Because why would he say he might consider other places but also insist he is in a niche job and won't move.

Because Sacramento is probably the best most affordable city, more so than many other locations he was suggesting. It's on par with Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, what was he thinking? It's a very good place, and if she's already bought a house on her own, with her salary to back it up, why argue about COL?

Maybe she likes the idea of a 2/1 that's close to everything with job possibilities. Maybe she doesn't want a 6 bedroom house in Indiana or West Virginia. Sacramento is a super nice city, way nicer than those, and low cost of living for CA.

The bottom line is he wants to be the breadwinner in hick Indiana and not change his life not one bit. The fact she spent years to be a NP means nothing to him. What a slap in the face for her. Coming from a guy who doesn't even have a bachelor's degree. I said. He had plenty of notice of this. He thought his ultimatums had more weight. She told him she wanted to move to California and she did.

OP responded:

You seem to be making many assumptions about things you do not know anything about and are making alot assumptions because she works in healthcare she must feel X way about something. I hate to break it to you but there’s many people who work in healthcare that are not open minded and modern like you seem to believe.

First of all, yes she's a very highly educated woman but she’s not a politically liberal feminist like you seem to assume as you keep bringing up watching women die from ectopic pregnancy because it’s illegal for them to have an abortion. I’m not saying she’s at KKK rallies or protesting planned parenthood and pride parades by any means but inferring from some of the things she posts or has said around me.

Let’s just say it will be interesting to see how she does in California where certain procedures are elective and beliefs are different than what she’s used to. She grew up not too far from where they live now and both of her parents are heavily into church and so is she. Take what you will regarding how she feels on certain topics with that. She also does not treat women with her job- at least she didn’t there.

We grew up in Chicago and both are pretty liberal. My brother is not a backwoods hillbilly hick with a lifted truck, more guns than he has teeth, with a Trump flag hanging from the shack he has his m*th lab in. His job happens to be in a more rural area, it’s not the sticks by any means, but he’s not some alt right conservative who thinks a woman belongs barefoot, uneducated, and pregnant in the kitchen.

In fact, he paid for all of her higher education because he didn’t want her to take out loans and I know he encouraged her to go back to school when she wasn’t sure she wanted to. He’s not perfect by any means (who is) and can absolutely be stubborn, and I call him out when I feel he is in the wrong as does he with me.

I always keep it blunt with him and I told him he should have been doing more regarding their location if she expressed she didn’t want to live there (this was today as I just learned she was not happy). He was in the military and started working where he does now once he got out because he didn’t know what he wanted to do and he just worked his way up and got lucky with how things panned out there.

He’s not an uneducated idiot by any means. Actually, he graduated near the top of his class and he got a full ride academic scholarship to rose hulman which is a prestigious engineering school, but wanted to go into the military instead.

Also, just because someone does not have a degree, that doesn’t make them stupid or illiterate and vice versa. There’s an old saying that goes “you can have a bachelor’s degree and still be an idiot.” He’s doing a whole heck of a lot better in life than most people with a bachelor’s degree and beyond, including myself and I have a PhD in engineering.

You could compare his situation to working at a waste water plant and needing additional certification/a degree if they were to move. To my knowledge, I think he told her he didn’t want to give up his job/position but they could look for places where there were jobs opportunities for both of them but didn’t want to go to California.

And while I do sympathize and totally understand why she didn’t want to stay there, and I do think he should have done more regarding moving elsewhere, taking the kid away from a loving father is a bit much. I know he got a rush order for a paternity test and also has proof through pediatrician appointments, daycare, insurance claims, etc that the baby’s residence is Indiana.

Jealous_Tie_8404 wrote:

Have you tried calling the ex-fiancée directly? This story sounds so crazy, I wonder what she would say to you?

OP responded:

I haven’t but my wife talked to her on the phone today (they were fairly close) and made sure she recorded it and will be giving it to my brother for legality purposes. My wife asked her if there was any type of abu*e at all and she said “no nothing like that. You know “John,” it was nothing like that.”

My wife also asked her why she did this and she said it was because she felt like she couldn’t grow there and had seen and done everything around there and was wanted to see what else was out there. She wanted to be in an area where she had a lot more job options (which is all logically understandable to me)

She said that my brother was hesitant to leave his job and kept telling her that with the pay cut he would have to take, they would make way less than they do now but in a more expensive area and he would not get the benefits he does now which would harm them both in the future financially due to his retirement benefits there.

He said he gets free healthcare for them so if something were to happen to one of them medically, they wouldn’t have to worry about medical bills and they wouldn’t get that elsewhere.

She also said my brother had told her he was hesitant to move and take a pay cut because if something were to happen to their relationship, if something happen where she couldn’t work or if something happened with their son where she needed/wanted to take over for caring for him.

He didn’t want to be in an expensive area making 60% less than he does now and then be stuck there because he wanted to be close to his son - which looking at her actions now I would say he made the right decision there. My wife asked her if my brother had looked into other job options or relocating and she said “yes but not where I wanted to go.”

She wanted to go to Sacramento because nurses can make a lot of money for the cost of living and my wife asked her if she was making good money Indiana and she said she was but had to work two jobs to do it and it was burning her out. My wife mentioned that she didn’t have to work 2 jobs and she said she knew that but wanted more for them as a family.

My wife asked her what her endgame/goal is because she has everyone upset with her and everyone feels duped by her actions - even her own parents- and she said she felt bad but she had to do what was best for her and her career longterm and that she loves me brother and wishes he would come out there with them.

My wife told her she was “loco” and that his (my brother's) trust is gone and she has no idea the damage and heartache she caused him and if she really thought after a “stunt” like this that my brother was just going to sigh and move out there to be with her and live happily ever after. She just said “I don’t have an answer for you, I have to go”.

OP jumped on later with another long update comment about the state of the wedding plans and the overall situation.

To my knowledge, he was not having second thoughts about the marriage. Just last week he was texting me about how excited he was to see her in her dress and how he couldn’t wait to go to bora bora with her and how he planned to surprise her as he has upgraded their accommodations to one of those bungalows that she said she had always dreamed about staying in.

He also just bought her a new SUV last month for her birthday and I don’t know anyone who buys their partner a 80k car if they plan to back out in the next month.

Now, if something else was going on behind closed doors that he didn’t disclose to me, I don’t know. I do know with my brothers job, his income would not transfer. Again, it’s not exactly his job but more so his position is why he makes what he makes(wish I could give a good example to clear things up).

I will tell you that’s it’s not a situation where he can just transfer and make that kind of money or be in a similar position/role. He told me when he looked for jobs in a similar role he could get, it would be like a 60%+ pay cut for him and less lucrative benefits for him and ultimately her and his son.

He’s not money hungry by any means but he’s a numbers guy and very analytical and I think he was more so thinking along the lines of if something ever happened down the road ( illness, divorce, etc) that he didn’t want to be stuck in an expensive area making 80k/year because he wouldn’t want to be far from his son - which honestly after all this probably wasn’t a horrible thought process.

Plus they currently get free healthcare through his work, free childcare, he gets a lot of paternity leave, etc. he would lose all of that which would hurt them both. And I know that their house is almost paid off. So I think his thought process was probably we make X here and have all of these benefits through my work and if we moved, we would have a bigger mortgage.

We would more than likely less as a household overall or about the same if you made more, we would be in a more expensive area and inevitably spending more, we wouldnt be able to put as much back in son's college fund and our retirement, we would have to pay for childcare which isn’t cheap.

If we had more kids I wouldn’t get 5 months off paid to help you and bond with baby like I would have if I kept my job, I would lose my pension and 10% 401k match which would hurt us in the future.

I wouldn’t get all the vacation time I have now so we would be taking less vacations (they go on a lot), if one of us got sick we would have to worry about medical bills, if you got hurt and couldnt work or if something happened where you couldn’t work, we would just have my income which would be lower and we would have more bills, etc.

My wife talked to the ex tonight and she pretty much confirmed that this was the case and that he had told her they could look at other places where they would both be happy at but he didn’t want to go to California.

He looked at jobs he would qualify for out there and it wouldn’t have been a massive paycut for him and overall as a household unless she made an astronomical amount. So by that, she did confirm that my brother never told her or agreed to moving to California.

Whether or not she mentioned Sacramento specifically I’m not sure. My wife talked to her yesterday and recorded their conversation and she confirmed that there was no abuse, she went there because she could make a 1 job what she made at 2 here, she wanted a change in scenery, and she thought by doing this my brother would essentially be forced to move out there with them.

My brother is adamant now more than ever that he’s not moving because he would be stuck out there in a lesser paying job and with a bunch of added bills he doesn’t have now to be close to his son and That their relationship is over even if he were to move out there. The trust he had is gone.

He has gotten a top notch lawyer and has documents showing the baby has been in daycare consistently in Indiana for the last several months, he has pediatrician records showing the baby has regular checkups and has been in Indiana (the baby has never left the state), he has taken pictures of the baby pretty much everyday since he’s been born that are timed and date stamped showing he has always been in Indiana.

He has documents showing he’s the one that has taken the baby to and from daycare, the doctors, and stayed at home while she went on trips with her friends. His lawyer said with that, the baby will be considered an Indiana resident even if she somehow did some back door crap to try and show the baby has been a California resident for X amount of time and that she will have to return him.

Her options are either going to be to split custody with him which would most likely require her to be not too far from him in Indiana, or she can give my brother primary custody and stay in California and can see her son according to whatever custody agreement they come up with.

Three weeks later, OP shared another update.

Brother's ex fiancé took their son and moved to California.

I came here looking for advice a few weeks ago regarding my brother's situation. You can click on my post to familiarize yourself.

I just wanted to give an update about all that has gone down the last few weeks. My brother immediately got a top notch lawyer when all of this went down. His lawyer filed for DNA swabs to be completed to establish paternity as being on the birth certificate is not enough to establish paternity in Indiana.

She was also made to get the baby swabbed within a few days. It came back that my brother is the father. His lawyer then petitioned for an emergency custody hearing, which was granted. My brother presented evidence showing his son is a resident of Indiana (the baby has never left the state) and he as granted emergency custody given the situation.

He flew to California and showed up to her house with the police to get the baby. He did not want to take his infant son away from his mother so he gave her the option to fly back to Indiana with him. She came back with him and the baby. My brother has officially ended their relationship and said that all trust between them is gone.

He is absolutely heartbroken. She is staying with her parents (who are livid with her apparently) and is begging my brother for a second chance. She told him she thought by moving that he would just decide to move too and she didn’t expect it to come to this. She said she wanted to go to California to experience new things.

She also told my brother her lawyer told her that her options now are either going to be to essentially give up primary custody of their son in order to go back to California which she will be required to pay child’s support or she will have to stay in Indiana within a certain amount of miles in order to get 50/50 custody -which my brother has no issues with.

She has decided she’s going to stay in Indiana and they are going to court to establish 50/50 custody. Also just wanted to say, some of you are absolutely WILD in regards to assumptions and people you do not know. My brother works his a*s off to provide for his family. He is an active father and plans to be involved in every aspect of his son's life.

My brother came home from work to find his fiancé and son missing and spent hours getting physically ill thinking something happened to his family, calling the police and all hospitals nearby thinking the worst all for her to call him and tell them they were halfway across the country and he needed to drop his entire life and come out or she was going to ensure he would see his son maybe a few times a year.

Yet somehow out of that people got that he is an absolute monster who must have been some controlling a-hole who beat her-because women escaping ab*se immediately call their ab*ser and tell them where they are and text them their new address.

She has adamantly denied any kind of abuse btw and has told people my brother has never even raised his voice at her in the 8 years they were together. Also wanted to point out that she did have a job. Two in fact, one was from home. She made 237k last year in rural Indiana.

She’s not a destitute woman with 0 career options. She could work anywhere with her job and work remotely, my brother cannot. He did not want to move somewhere where he wouldn’t be okay financially if something were to happen-she got sick/hurt and couldn’t work, they split up and he was stuck wherever to be close to his son, etc.

What a horrible guy he is for not wanting to giving up his high paying job he can’t get anywhere else and drop the life he loves to move across the country at her beck and call, somewhere he would not be able to and afford to live on his own if needed to be.

I can’t help but feel had the roles been reversed, the comments would have been very very different. Some of y’all’s options on men and fathers are absolutely in the gutter.

The comments kept flowing in.

abortionleftovers wrote:

Please don’t take this as excusing what she did but to suddenly up and leave like this seems quite unstable. Is she experiencing any postpartum depression/delusions? 8 months out from birth isn’t that long and she may be having serious issues.

Not to say that your brother needs to take her back or anything I’m sure this deeply hurt him, but he may want to look into asking the court have her mentally evaluated or suggest she speak with a doctor if she needs medication. If she’s behaving like this I hate to suggest it but she could be a danger to herself and the baby.

It’s great dad doesn’t want to be spiteful and wants to do 50/50 but maybe just speak with him about her mental state. Better safe than sorry when it comes to things like that.

OP responded:

I talked to him about this and even suggested maybe like a manic episode or something. That said, documents show she bought the house before she gave birth. She bought it may 2023 and she had my nephew at the end of June. Her dad told my brother that he thinks they spoiled her too much because she was the youngest and only girl and they never told her “no.”

Even with my brother, the only thing he’s ever put his foot down on his leaving his job and moving across the country (according to him). I personally think she is used to getting her way with everything and my brother wasn’t willing to move to California so she did this to try and force his hand.

She told my wife as much when my wife spoke to her the day after she left. And she’s told my brother since she came back with the baby that she thought he would just move out there when she took the baby and didn’t think it would come down to this.

zeiaxer wrote:

I wanted to point out on the last post that if your brother was on the BC and she left without permission taking their son, he, in theory, could have had her charged with kidnapping. She got lucky.

OP responded:

So this is false. So he was on the birth certificate but in Indiana, being on the birth certificate does not establish paternity for unmarried couples. Meaning she was technically a single mother in the eyes of the law and therefore could take the baby wherever she pleased without needing consent.

Also, since they were not married and there was no custody agreement between them at the time, she still could have legally taken the baby anywhere she wanted even if paternity had already been established. Unmarried mothers automatically have physical custody of their children in Indiana until there is a court order/custody agreement stating otherwise.

1moreKnife2theheart wrote:

Wow. So sorry some folks were bashing your brother - they must have spent too much time on the JustNo subs. Very glad he was able to get the emergency custody order - he went above and beyond to offer her to come back with them instead of leaving her there. What a very horrible thing she did.

He's right - ALL trust is gone and can never be recovered. It says a lot that your brother is even willing for her to have 50/50 custody after what she did - how can he ever feel safe or confident that she won't do this again? It's scary. What she did was manipulative and unhinged. Hope he gets through this and finds someone he can trust and love after such a betrayal.

TerribleTechnician39 wrote:

I can’t believe people were/are bashing your brother so hard in the original post. Honestly I would have been afraid she was having a mental breakdown, and that might be what is happening.

8 months post partum and planning to the level of accepting a job / finding childcare in another state is crazy. Real story, my mother moved me and my siblings across the country and told my dad the morning he was leaving for an international work trip.

Turns out she had serious post partum depression that spiraled into bipolar then schizoaffective disorder. This was in the 90s. My dad quit his successful career and followed us to eventually win custody because of her mental illness. I’m glad this has worked out for your brother so quickly. It took years for my dad and his career never recovered. Sh*ts crazy.

Overall_Survey1348 wrote:

Your brother's ex messed up big time and I hoped her family got his back instead of defending her actions. She could’ve discussed about moving states with him instead of ghosted and kidnapped his son.

This is a major saga, hopefully, it resolves with the baby getting time with both parents, somehow.

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