A parent’s bond with a child is a special type of relationship that parents often seek to protect. Unfortunately, during and after divorce or separation, parents may feel that the other party is compromising this relationship.
This may lead to parental issues, which may result in drastic actions such as one parent keeping a child away from another parent or trying to maintain more time with the child. In such instances, a parental kidnapping charge may arise, and it is important to understand a few key aspects of this particular charge.
According to state law, kidnapping occurs when a party, whether a parent or not, takes a minor child out of the care of the party that has lawful custody of the child. In the case of a parent with lawful custody, it is still possible to face kidnapping charges if the other parent has lawful custody rights as well, and the accused parent does not adhere to the custody agreement. For this reason, it is important to get any custody modifications in writing.
There are a few possible ways that a parent may defend against an accusation of parental kidnapping. Depending upon the terms of child custody in the divorce agreement, a parent may contest that he or she did not believe the event was out of alignment with the custody agreement. If the child is older and goes on his or her own merit, the court may not deem it as kidnapping. In cases of domestic abuse, a parent may claim that it was an act of protection; however, the parent will have to show evidence of the abuse.
If the court finds a parent guilty of kidnapping charges, the parent may face up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine, if it is a local event. A parent who takes a child out of the country will face a class 4 felony, which carries up to six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
It may be beneficial to discuss options with a knowledgeable professional. Whether you are pursuing or facing parental kidnapping charges, understanding these aspects of the charge can aid in determining the best course of action.