Can A Parent Be Accused of Kidnapping Their Own Child?


The short answer? Surprisingly, yes.

Disputes over the custody of a child often arise when there is a divorce or dissolution of a relationship between couples. The war over who gets what child and for how long often takes immense amounts of energy, time and legal assistance when the arguments cannot be solved peacefully.

This may lead to the kidnapping of one of the children or all that exist in the relationship. If this occurs, it is important to know what this means legally and how to resolve the matter. There are often severe consequences to taking this step of child abduction.

What is considered parental kidnapping is important to understand. There may not be a charge of parental kidnapping, but these actions are often included in the general laws regarding kidnapping instances. There are three primary factors that constitute a kidnapping by one of the parents. The legal standing of the involved parent is relevant to these matters. If there are custody court orders in effect with the child that has been taken, this is included as parental kidnapping. The intent of the parent that has violated the law through this offense may lead to more severe or less grave consequences.

Free and Equal Access to the Child

There are no restrictions placed on either parent in regards to visitation or custody until a limit has been placed through the court. This means that either parent may make an arrangement with the other spouse in order to see or have his or her child over at his or her residence until the agreed upon time. However, if a child custody or divorce has been filed at some point, there is the possibility that one of the members of the couple may lose certain rights or time to see his or her child. Until this occurs, one parent is still within his or her rights to take the youth out of school early, to stay at his or her place for an extended weekend or during school breaks and similar actions due to no limiting orders on these rights. While this may cause dissension with the other parent, this is not considered parental kidnapping because of the lack of legal restrictions. However, the adult that takes the young person must be one of the parents in order to perform these actions.


No matter how much function someone has as a parent, he or she is not provided full and clear access to the child unless he or she is one of the actual parents. These rights are reserved for the biological fathers and mothers. Even if someone has lived with one of the ex-spouses for several years and may have a common law marriage with him or her, this does not grant the rights and privileges of legal parentage to him or her. Before free and full access to the child is a right for this person, he or she must petition family court for these rights. If someone has legal custody of the youth, it is not usually possible for him or her to be charged through his or her actions with parental kidnapping. But, this is possible for someone that violates custody orders. This may be through taking the young person, hiding the little one or similar behavior.

State Law Parental Kidnapping

Each state has variations of laws regarding parental kidnapping with others not having any regulations of this specific crime. In the states without these laws, the general kidnapping crimes apply to these actions. Usually a parent is charged with this crime when he or she abducts the youth and holds him or her somewhere that is not easily discovered. Some states do not require the use of force, weapons or injury for these criminal acts to be charged for kidnapping. The taking of the young person is often enough for charges to be issued for violations of the law.

Because many states have no specific law involving parental kidnapping, the general kidnapping rules apply with some alterations to address this behavior. This could be through an hourly stipulation where 24 hours must pass with the young person not being found, an exception in usual child kidnapping terms and similar concerns.

In some circumstances, there may have been a misunderstanding. It is imperative a family lawyer is contacted immediately to rectify the issue. Being charged for parental kidnapping usually causes a loss of custody or a change in visitation affecting the parent issued these criminal charges.

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