What is Considered Parental Kidnapping?
Non-custodial parents who take or keep a child in violation of a court order could find themselves facing criminal charges.
Parents often have strong feelings about their role in their child’s life and strong opinions about how their children should be raised. If parents feel that a child custody order is unfair, threatens their parental rights, or puts the relationship between them and the child in jeopardy, they may be tempted to take the law into their own hands. When a parent fails to comply with child custody and visitation arrangements by taking the child and not returning him or her to the other parent, that parent could face parental kidnapping charges.
The term ‘parental kidnapping’ generally applies to situations in which adoptive or biological parents are unmarried, going through a divorce, or otherwise living separate and apart from each other. Under Section 25.03 of the Texas Penal Code, a parent could be found guilty of kidnapping for physically taking or failing to return a child in the following situations:
If there is a current child custody and visitation order in place, which they are violating;
If they have previously been denied physical custody of the child;
If they are currently in the midst of child custody proceedings.
Parental kidnapping may involve failing to communicate the whereabouts of the child to the other parent or taking the child out of the geographic area. In these situations, there are laws to protect custodial parents and to help hasten the child’s return.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a federal law designed to deter parental kidnapping by letting courts coordinate their efforts across state lines. If the parent does attempt to take the child out of the area or even out of the country, the original custody order is still enforceable.
According to Child Find of America, more than 200,000 children are victims of family abductions each year in the United States. In nearly 80% of these cases, a non-custodial parent is involved. Common reasons why parents may opt to violate a child custody order and keep a child unlawfully include:
They are dissatisfied with the court’s decision in their child custody case;
They have been denied child custody or visitation due to non-payment of support or other reasons;
They feel that taking the child is the best way to protect the child from dangerous or abusive situations;
They use the kidnapping as a way of ‘getting back’ at the other parent, which may be due to anger over the breakup, a new partner, or the lifestyle the other parent lives.
John Powell III, P.C. acts a as a strong advocate on your side in dealing with parental kidnapping and other child custody concerns. Call or contact our Texas child custody attorney online and request a consultation to see how we can assist you today.