Parental Kidnapping and Family Abduction

Parental Kidnapping and Family Abductions Attorney. Wall Legal Solutions in Cottonwood Heights, UT.

More than 700,000 cases of abduction and kidnapping haunt parents in the US each year, and nearly one-half (49%) of kidnapping cases are committed by a family member, especially parents. In 2013, 775 children were kidnapped by one of their parents. Parental kidnapping, or parental abduction, occurs when one parent violates a custodial order and takes a child to an unknown location. However, parental kidnapping is not a valid argument for parents who have been slightly late to return a child to the parent with entitled custody. Utah code annotated 76-5-303 addresses Custodial Interference, which happens when a parent keeps a child under 16-years-old from the parent with custody. Unless the child is taken to another state, the offense is a Class A Misdemeanor; crossing state lines with a taken child is a Third-degree felony. In 1980, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) set down standards for states to modify, or otherwise change, an existing custody law in another state, which helps prevent parent abductors from obtaining custody of an abducted child. If the other parent of your child has already broken the Utah and Federal Law regarding parental abduction, fill our contact information for, and one of our lawyers will begin working on your case.

How a Parental Kidnapping Attorney Can Assist Your Case

If you are concerned about the possible welfare of your child while in the care of the other parent, you may need to speak with an attorney. If you are currently going through a break-up, difficult times, divorce, or other issues with the other parent, your child could be at risk for parental abduction.  Here are some of the primary reasons you should obtain legal representation now before anything occurs.

  • Unmarried parents should consult an attorney regarding custody determination. Many may think custody decisions are only for married couples, but the issue applies to any couple with children.
  • If you do not have a custodial order in place, the other parent does not have the right to take the child without joint agreement, otherwise known as Child Snatching, and you can file a lawsuit regarding this.
  • If the other parent has already violated the order and taken your child across county, state, or international lines without permission, you need an attorney.
  • Sometimes, you may need assistance in arrangements for picking up your child in a safe, secure environment.
  • If are concerned about the other parent’s potential to kidnap your child, an attorney can help you with preparing the evidence and presenting such evidence to the courts.
  • An attorney can help you recover your child if the other parent has already committed the act of parental abduction, which may include HCCH petitions or asking foreign courts to recognize the US custodial order.
  • Once you have recovered your child, an attorney can help you notify all agencies, organizations, or groups about your success, which will allow for more resources to be devoted to finding children still missing.

Interstate Custody and Child Abduction Issues

When a child is taken by a parent to another state without the primary custodial parent’s consent, the issue becomes a felony in all states and territories except Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act of 1997 delves into the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and places exclusive and ongoing jurisdiction regarding custody matters in the child’s home state with the parent of primary custody. However, parents and children may relocate often, so the law extends the jurisdiction to the state with the most connections, such as school, daycare, or legal concerns, when a child has not lived in any one state for at least six months.

International Custody and Child Abduction Issues

While you’d like to believe that every country takes parental kidnapping as seriously as the US, only 79 countries have extradition laws pertaining to the return of a child abducted by a parent and taken from the US. The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) lists all of the countries in which a laws exist to persecute parents who have abducted their children. Unfortunately, countries not listed by the HCCH may not be willing to hear your arguments, or some countries may immediately grant custody to the kidnapping parent. For example, some Middle Eastern countries immediately give custody to the father of a child, regardless of cause for otherwise. If your child has been taken to a foreign country, you must first locate the country he or she has been taken to, and begin working on filing a petition to the HCCH, which will help you get your child back. Furthermore, children’s passports may be held by law enforcement organizations in HCCH countries to help get your child home, but the opposite may hold true in countries where parental custody disputes are settled on a case-by-case basis.

Parental Abduction Attorney Utah

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and most US territories have enacted criminal, parental kidnapping statutes to deter parental kidnapping and punish abductors. Some states may have more harsh punishments for such abductions, and as mentioned above, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico are the only areas where parental kidnapping across jurisdiction is not currently a felony. In states where the case becomes a felony, the abductor is usually extradited back to the original jurisdiction where the crime has been committed. If you believe your child is at risk for or has already been a victim of parental kidnapping, contact our office for a free consultation.