Think Twice Before Kidnapping Your Own Child

by kdhewatt on August 15, 2012

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A divorce can lead to several headaches and heartaches, but these terrible times can be magnified when there is a child involved. Divorce often leads to extended ugly custody battles that are definitely not healthy for the child involved. It is important for both parents to follow a court’s orders when it comes to custodial arrangements, but there are times when kidnapping charges can be brought against a parent, even if they don’t realize they’ve done anything wrong. Unfortunately, there are several things that parents could do with their children when they were married that they may be unable to do after or during a divorce.

State Issues

There was one point in time that if a parent was being mistreated in a court in the home state of a former spouse, they could attempt to take their child to another state, where they may achieve a more favorable custody outcome. Those days, however, have come and gone. Even if one parent is treated unfairly, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) prevents them from transporting their child to another state and achieving a more positive child custody result. This act was passed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws back in 1997. Massachusetts and Puerto Rico are the only states or territories that have not adopted the act. Every other state and territory has agreed to recognize the validity of every other state’s child custody orders.

Kidnapping Your Own Child

Although it sounds ridiculous, taking your own child against a court order will likely be considered kidnapping. If you are captured after doing this, you will need a criminal lawyer as opposed to a family lawyer. The UCCJEA has effectively made it a felony for a person to take their child against court orders. It also prevents that parent from getting a custody order outside of the home state of the child, so any parent who attempts this will be on the run from the law. Once captured, the parent can face a slew of charges, depending on their home state. Florida for instance has made it a third-degree felony for any person to interfere with the custodial rights of another by kidnapping their own child. Even with the precursor “third-degree”, the charge is still quite serious and can bring serious jail time.

Lawyers, Penalties and Defenses

According to our criminal lawyer Fort Lauderdale firm, Florida considers kidnapping your own child a third-degree felony. These felonies can bring with them a five year stint in prison if the parent is convicted. This penalty can be increased if the parent is a habitual offender, and it will take a good attorney to defend them against these serious charges. There are actually legitimate defenses to kidnapping charges. Florida law states that if a child is in danger, the defendant was a victim of domestic violence or the child instigated their own kidnapping with no enticement, then the parent has a legitimate defense.

Kidnapping is a serious offense, and unfortunately, a parent can be charged with the kidnapping of their own child. In these situations, it is imperative that you find a criminal defense lawyer to show why the action may have been necessary. Even if you didn’t take your child under one of the aforementioned defenses, a lawyer will ensure the best outcome for your case. Divorces lead to unprecedented hard feelings, and unfortunately, throwing children in the mix can open an entire new world of difficulties for a parent.

Katie Hewatt is a legal researcher and contributing writer for criminal lawyer Fort Lauderdale firm of Robert David Malove.  Attorney Malove has over 25 years of criminal trial experience and is diligent about finding just the right strategy to get his clients through their trials so they can move on with their lives. 




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