While it may be difficult to consider the act of a parent taking their own child in the same category as a stranger abducting your child, the truth is that the same criminal charges can be brought. In other words, kidnapping your own child against court orders can be charged as a criminal offense. It is not uncommon to hear about a child being kidnapped by a parent on the news, as the story is an interesting one. This can be the result of many different things, some more sinister than others. It may be a simple case of failing to return the child on time after a visitation. Other times, the “kidnapping” takes place during a divorce or custody battle in an attempt to “steal” the child away from the other party. Whether the child is taken by accident, with nefarious intentions, or with noble intentions, the parent who “kidnapped” the child will not be viewed favorably by the court in a subsequent custody case. In this type of situation, the child will almost definitely be the losing party. Not only will such a situation likely emotionally damage the child for years to come, but the court may determine the offending parent is not fit for further visitation or custody.
Last year, a woman in New Hampshire turned herself in after “kidnapping” her daughter 10 years ago and fleeing. While the mother says her reasoning was noble, saving her child from her husband, the moral of the story is that the law prohibits such behavior regardless. Taking legal action immediately in order to get a court order protecting your child is a much safer and more productive route to take if you ever find yourself in such a position.
The Georgia code states that an individual is guilty of kidnapping when he or she abducts or steals away another person without lawful authority or warrant and holds such other person against his or her will. Furthermore, there is a federal law that prohibits the abduction of a child by a parent called the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act allows for a court in any state to have emergency jurisdiction over a kidnapping case when the child is physically present and has been abandoned or is in danger. Thus, the federal law makes it easier to pursue cases once the jurisdiction has changed.
If you are worried about your child’s other parent taking your child, there are some ways you might prevent such an action on their part. The best way to combat these illegal actions is to take legal action. If you are concerned, talk to an attorney about filing an emergency custody order and/or a protective order. The court can order that the child not be taken out of the state or that visitation will be supervised. While you may be on the watch at all times, it is important that you make anyone who is in charge of your child at any time aware of any limitations. For example, be sure to bring a copy of any custody orders or other relevant court orders to the child’s school, daycare operator, babysitter, coaches, etc.
If you or someone you know is concerned about parental kidnapping and or has already experienced concerns regarding parental kidnapping, it is important that you contact an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate the system. Contact our office to see how we might be able to help you in your family law case.