March 19, 2020

Can You Be Charged with Kidnapping Your Own Child?

Find out if a parent can be charged with kidnapping their own child.

In short, yes. A parent can be criminally charged with kidnapping their child. In the majority of cases, this occurs because the parents are involved in a contentious dispute about child custody or visitation. 

If you’re going through a divorce or you’re considering filing for divorce, it’s important to work with an experienced North Carolina divorce lawyer. You should never remove your child from the state or the jurisdiction against a court order. Not only can this land you in serious legal trouble, but it can also jeopardize your custody rights. 

A knowledgeable North Carolina family lawyer can help you understand your options and make sure you’re not violating a court order that could impact your right to custody or visitation with your child. 

What Is Parental Kidnapping?

Most people think of kidnapping as a stranger abducting a child or luring them into a vehicle. However, kidnapping can also involve a parent taking their child against a court order and without the other parent’s knowledge or permission. This can also include withholding custody or visitation from the other parent, typically for an extended period of time.  

According to one report, more than 200,000 children are kidnapped by a member of their own family each year. In most cases, it’s a parent who does the kidnapping. Additionally, the Department of Justice states that half of all family abductions involve the child’s biological father, whereas 25 percent involve the child’s biological mother.

In some cases, the parent doesn’t blatantly abduct the child. For example, the kidnapping might start with a regularly scheduled visit, such as a summer vacation. However, when it’s time for the child to return to the other parent, the abducting parent might move away with the child or refuse to hand over the child in accordance with a court order. 

These situations can become even more complicated when a parent goes into hiding with the child or moves to another country. Once a child is overseas, it can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive for the other parent to fight the abduction.  

Why Do Parents Kidnap Their Children?

There are several reasons why a parent might choose to abduct their child. For example, they might believe the child is in danger from the other parent and that the court isn’t doing enough to protect the child. 

Understandably, this can be a difficult and emotional situation for the parent. They might feel frustrated and helpless, or that they’re putting their child in danger by letting the other parent see the child. 

In other cases, however, a parent might kidnap their child as a means of exacting revenge on the other parent. This can happen in custody disputes that are particularly volatile or contentious. In some situations, a parent disagrees with the court or wants to use the child as leverage in a divorce case.

It’s important to note that courts most definitely don’t look favorably on a parent who willfully violates a court order by withholding custody rights from the other parent. Courts are bound by the law to act in a child’s best interests. By keeping the child from the other parent for purposes of revenge, a parent is most likely not acting in the child’s best interests. 

How Child Kidnapping Can Impact Custodial Rights

If a parent abducts their child or violates a court order by withholding custody, this can have an impact on the parent’s custodial rights and right to receive visitation with the child. The court might view the parent as unreliable or too volatile to exercise parenting rights responsibly. 

In addition, the parent might face criminal charges. This can create a legal minefield that can have a far-reaching effect on the parent’s right to see their child and exercising their parenting rights. 

Discuss Your Case with a North Carolina Family Lawyer

If you are concerned about your child’s safety or well-being with your ex or an estranged spouse, it’s never a good idea to take matters into your own hands by kidnapping your child or withholding custody or visitation from the other parent. You don’t want to jeopardize your right to custody of your child by violating the law and possibly being charged with a criminal offense.

To get the help you deserve, contact an experienced North Carolina family law lawyer. A knowledgeable family lawyer can help you explore your options, including the possibility of filing an emergency order to protect your child by limiting or temporarily terminating visitation with the other parent. You have important rights, and your child has a right to be safe and protected. An experienced Raleigh North Carolina family lawyer can help you protect your child and ensure he or she is safe. 



Visit the Vitale Family Law office in Raleigh, NJ here.

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