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WHAT ARE CUSTODY RIGHTS BEFORE THERE'S AN ORDER?

Before a court has entered some form of order, each parent has equal rights to custody. Unfortunately, if parents choose to, they can play a vicious and destructive game of "keep away." Sometimes a "keep away" strategy is necessary, but in such cases, court assistance should be sought as soon as possible.

Until there is an order, neither parent can be guilty of "kidnapping" in Mississippi. Some states have laws that bar taking children across state lines to defeat another parent's right of access, even if there is no court order. All states have laws which protect the right of a child's home state (lived there the past 6 months) to make custody decisions, except in rare cases where a child is in danger.

Before a court order is entered parents are urged to act with some cooperation to allow access.