One of the most important parts of child custody is adhering to the rules of the custody order. Each parent has rules and guidelines within the custody order they must follow. The custody order states when each parent has custody of the children, where the children live, and when a parent can take the children a long physical distance, how long the children can be away, and the like.
When divorces are contentious, one parent may choose to take liberties with the child custody agreement not allowed by the order. If a parent does this, they can be charged with kidnapping their own children. Keep reading to learn about what you need to know.
What Laws Constitute Kidnapping?
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention act is in place to prevent the possible kidnapping of children, particularly if you take the children across different state lines. The law provides for specific guidelines for courts to use when the judge determines the home state of the child. The law also states the child’s home state is in charge of the determination of custody.
The goal of the law is to prevent a parent from moving a child to a state where they hope to get a better custody decision. In addition, the law provides guidelines to determine if a child has a connection to the state, whether or not the move is an emergency that necessitates the move across state lines, and whether or not a certain location is ideal for the hearing of the case.
Kidnapping occurs when you move a child away by a significant distance from the custodial parent without permission. For example, if you take the child across state or national lines for a vacation and you do not have the legal right to do so, even if you are the child’s parent, you can be charged with kidnapping your child. This is a major offense and can come with a penalty of fines and time in jail.
What If You Do Not Have a Custody Order?
You and your former spouse must have a custody order in place from the court to charge a parent with kidnapping. If you do not have an official court order for custody, the other parent has the right to move the children until such an order is in place.
However, if you do take your child a long distance away without permission or consultation with the other parent, the child’s other parent may request a temporary custody order from the court. At that point, you need to return the child upon penalty of kidnapping. If you choose to violate the temporary order, you can face criminal kidnapping charges.
How Can You Prove You Did Not Kidnap Your Child?
You may feel you have the right to take your child across state lines or a long distance away from the other parent. If you find yourself accused of kidnapping, you can provide evidence you did not intend to kidnap your child.
First, you can show you did not have any malicious intent when you moved your child. You may also prove you did not kidnap your child if you bring the child back to the custodial parent when they asked you to do so. If you were falsely accused of taking your child without permission by the other parent and can prove it, you may also escape kidnapping charges.
Crime within families is upsetting and emotional. If you have any questions about parental kidnapping, please contact us at Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC. We will work hard to help you with this difficult family situation.