What Is Parental Kidnapping in Texas?

One of the most challenging types of cases for a child custody lawyer in The Woodlands involves parental kidnapping. It may appear as a contradiction of terms, but this is actually a very serious legal offense. And it happens more often than anyone would like to think.

Let us discuss what it involves and the key aspects any parent needs to know.

What Exactly Is Parental Kidnapping?

In many cases, ex-spouses are not able to co-parent peacefully and amiably. And in extreme situations, one parent will take possession of the child and refuse to give the other parent access to them or tell them the location where the child is kept.

This is in simple terms the definition of parental kidnapping. It is a felony, enshrined in Texas Penal Code Section 25.03 – Interference with Child Custody. The law specifies that kidnapping occurs when one of the parents takes a child under 18 years old:

  • Outside the United States
  • Out of the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district

Penalties for Parental Kidnapping

This legal offense is classified as a felony in Texas and is punishable by up to 2 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000. The kidnapping parent may also face additional penalties if they committed this offense in conjunction with other crimes, such as:

  • Child abuse
  • Child endangerment
  • Using a weapon during the act of kidnapping the child

What Happens If There Are No Custody Orders in Place?

Some couples decide to separate without filing for divorce or petitioning the court to issue child custody orders. In this situation, both parents have equal rights to have access to the child, without any conditions and restrictions.

In this specific situation, if one parent decides to leave the state of Texas or the United States with the child, you cannot invoke parental kidnapping. The offense relates to breaching custody orders. Since there are no orders in place, there is no breach.

The best thing to do if you plan to separate from your spouse is to contact an experienced child custody lawyer in The Woodlands and begin the legal process of establishing custody rights.

Once the court has issued an order, law enforcement officers can intervene and enforce it if the other parent breaches it.

even a parent can be accused of kidnapping a child

Can Intervention to Protect the Child from Danger Be Deemed Kidnapping?

Parental kidnapping is not always a straightforward matter. Some parents will invoke the fact that they took possession of the child in order to remove them from a situation where they were in danger.

However, an attorney will always advise you to contact Child Protective Services as soon as you suspect that your child may be unsafe or in danger while living with the other parent.

In parallel, your lawyer will help you obtain an emergency protective order, which can effectively restrict the other parent’s access to the child.

Act Quickly If You Suspect Parental Kidnapping

Many cases of parental kidnapping become complex and take long to resolve because they are not notified in a timely manner. Many people hope to reconcile with their ex-spouse and give them the benefit of the doubt.

You must remember that your child’s wellbeing and safety are more important than anything. As soon as you realize that you cannot get access to your child, notify your lawyer and the police.

A Skilled Child Custody Lawyer in The Woodlands Will Protect Your Rights!

While parental kidnapping per se is a matter of criminal law, making sure that you have a custody order in place is something determined in a civil family court. An experienced child custody lawyer in The Woodlands will help you promote your child’s best interests and obtain a fair custody arrangement.

Do not let the matter of child custody to chance! Call the Bolton Law firm today to schedule an initial appointment: 281-942-7943!