A good friend of mine is in an incredibly delicate situation. I hope someone here can help as I can't find anything relevant online. She has been living in the US for over 4 years. She, partner and kids have entered the US on a tourist visa and overstayed. She is breaking up with partner and wants to go back to her country of origin. Her partner is playing hardball and says he will not allow the kids to leave the country. I don't want to go into much detail here, but she has been in an abusive relationship.

The U.S. customs and border protection states the following:

Unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the child must have a notarized letter from the other parent or signed by both parents stating, "I acknowledge that my son/daughter is traveling outside the country with [the name of the adult] with my permission."

If worse come to worst, she can get in touch with immigration and they will probably deport everyone. I believe this would be a terrible outcome as it would be a trauma for her and kids.

So finally, here is my question: My friend is not a US citizen and has overstayed her visa in the USA. Can she buy tickets and leave the USA with her 2 kids? Will she be allowed to leave the USA with 2 kids without her husband's explicit approval?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Giorgio, gmauch, David Richerby, Newton, Ali Awan Aug 2 '18 at 4:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    That text you quote is about returning to the US. Travelers leaving the US are generally not inspected by government officers, although they do perform spot checks. The airline might ask for parental permission before boarding the children with only one parent present, so you should check with the airline about that. In addition, the country of origin might have requirements for children traveling with only one parent. – phoog Mar 23 '18 at 21:07
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    Stop. Your friend needs a lawyer who practices family law to advise her, and may need the services of an immigration lawyer as well. Going down the road of what her partner will surely call "international child abduction" without professional advice is a bad idea. There may be local organizations that help women with abusive partners, and other organizations that help immigrants, which you could help connect her with. – Zach Lipton Mar 23 '18 at 21:21
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    Are the children US citizens? – Robert Columbia Mar 23 '18 at 23:12
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    Going to the police when you've overstayed your visa is a scary thing. Depending on the agency involved, the response could be anything from "we don't care about your immigration status" to "we're separating you from your kids and taking you to immigration detention now." Get legal advice first. – Zach Lipton Mar 24 '18 at 7:19
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    VTC: IMHO these questions should be asked of an attorney, rather than TSE, for numerous reasons: overstay, undocumented, domestic abuse, parental rights... suggestions or opinions here, if followed, could be calamitous. – Giorgio Aug 1 '18 at 14:04

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