Can a Parent Kidnap Their Own Child?
More than half of all child abductions occur because the parents are in the midst of a custody battle. When one parent experiences a change in child custody or visitation and does not take kindly to these changes, he or she may react rashly and kidnap his or her own child to take control of the situation. This may occur as a means to get the other parent to communicate or even out of pure bitterness for feeling their child has been taken from them.
According to the Texas Penal Code, Section 25.03 regarding interference with child custody, an individual commits parental abduction if he or she takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age with knowledge of the following circumstances:
- Taking the child is a violation of a judge’s order
- The individual was not awarded custody of the child
- A custody suit is filed regarding the child.
Parental abduction is considered a state felony charge, which is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if a child was held for ransom, the child was abused, or a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime, the penalties and charges will increase.
Preventing Parental Abduction
The following are common signs of parents who are likely to abduct their own children, including but not limited to:
- Serious arguments with the other parent over visitation and custody
- Threats to abduct your child
- History of violence
- Expressions of anger and rage
What You Should Do If You’re Worried about Parental Abduction
It is not uncommon for a parent to take their child out of state pending a custody hearing. If you notice any of the above signs and are concerned about what may happen in the future, there are steps you can take. Your child should not be used as a pawn by your ex in order to show a power move or exact revenge against you for the termination of your previous relationship. If having a calm and mature conversation with your ex doesn’t make things better, you may need to take legal action.
If you are genuinely worried about your spouse fleeing with the kids, you may be eligible to request an emergency custody order from the judge in charge of your case. This order would temporarily place the child in your care until the custody hearing concludes.
If your spouse does take your child out of state in violation of the Texas penal code, you can press criminal charges and law enforcement can locate and retrieve your child.
Our Houston Child Custody Lawyers Handle Parental Kidnapping Cases
Our Houston family law attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC understand just how frightening it can be to face the possibility of not knowing your child’s whereabouts due to the irresponsible and cruel actions of his or her other parent. Whether your ex has already carried out the abduction or you are concerned an abduction is impending, you deserve to have a legal team by your side who will advocate for justice on your behalf. You and your child both deserve a stable environment without the chaotic actions of an angered or unstable person.