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When can a parental kidnapping lead to criminal charges?

When parents choose to live apart, either due to divorce or other circumstances, they may agree to a child custody plan that governs when each parent will have time with their shared child. In Arizona a child custody plan may be created by the parents or may be set by the court through an order; in either case once a child custody plan is accepted by the court the failure of the parties to abide by its terms may be punishable under the law.

If parents struggle to meet the basic terms of the plan, such as drop off times or visitation limitations, they may be able to petition the court to have their child custody arrangement modified. If, however, a parent chooses to take custody matters into his or her own hands and absconds with a child in violation of an operating child custody order, that parent may be considered to have kidnapped his child.

Parental kidnapping is a serious legal matter. It may rob a parent of future rights to be with the child and put the parent-child relationship in jeopardy. A parent who has an operating custody order, and whose child has been kidnapped by the other parent, has the right to seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies.

In some cases, a parent who kidnaps his or her child will not travel far from the child's custodial home. In other cases, a parent may leave the country with the child in violation of the custody order. In cases of international abduction, foreign laws may be applicable to the extraction and return of the child to their custodial parent.

Child custody matters can raise many legal questions. While it is very possible that a parent may face kidnapping charges if he takes a child in violation of a custody plan, in some cases these extreme dilemmas can be avoided with consultation with family law attorneys.

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