When people think of kidnapping, they usually think of a child snatched away from family by a stranger, often through force or intimidation.
However, parental kidnapping is different. Parental kidnapping occurs when one parent takes the child without the knowledge and consent of the other parent.
Violation of a custody order
If either parent violates the custody order make by the court, they are at risk of being criminally charged with parental kidnapping. The custodial parent could file a kidnapping report with law enforcement against a non-custodial parent who does not return the child to the custodial parent at the agreed-upon time and place. A non-custodial parent could accuse a custodial parent of kidnapping if the custodial parent denies the non-custodial parent court-ordered time with their child.
Taking the child across state lines
If you intend to travel out of state with your child, you should have the consent of the other parent because that travel may cause the other parent to miss the court-appointed time with the child. If you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent and the travel is necessary, you should ask the judge for permission. If you take your child across state lines without the consent of the other parent or without written permission from the judge, you could risk a charge of abduction. Taking a child across state lines can result in a federal kidnapping charge against the parent accused of abduction.
If a prosecutor can prove that the accused parent purposefully and maliciously kept the child from the other parent, and intended to hide them, parental kidnapping can result in a misdemeanor or a felony. A guilty verdict comes with a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to four years.