Can I be charged with parental kidnapping if I keep my child beyond my parenting time?

From time to time, we answer common questions we get about divorce, custody, assets and other family law issues. Today’s question is about child custody and understanding what constitutes parental kidnapping. 


My ex kept my daughter when it supposed to be my parenting time last weekend. My daughter is with me now for parenting time, so I texted my ex saying I will keep her for a few more days to make up for the time lost. My ex replied that if I do this, she will call the cops and say I kidnapped our child. Does she have the legal right to do this?


If you keep a child outside of a court-ordered timeframe — i.e., beyond the parenting time schedule which is embodied in the terms of a court order — you are in breach of the order.

Depending upon the circumstances, the parent violating the order may be subject to remedies in civil or criminal court. The other parent could call the police for a return of the child, and legally be within their rights to do so. Some cases could rise to the charges of parental kidnapping, even in joint custody situations, especially if the parent involved removes the child from either home and travels to an undisclosed location.

The fact that your ex deviated from the plan at some point does not mean that the plan no longer has to be followed. Only changes in writing and incorporated in an agreement that is made part of a court order can supersede the contents of a prior order.

Should your ex continue to keep your child from you, you can go to the courts to seek enforcement of your current order. The courts can hear your request for “make up” time to compensate for time lost with your child.

Bottom line: It is to your advantage to seek a legal solution for your situation so that you can safeguard your time with your child and safeguard your peace of mind.

What questions do you have about child custody? Get the answers you need by speaking with one of our divorce and family law specialists. Schedule your initial attorney consultation today. Safeguard time with your kids by calling us at 888-888-0919, or please click the button below. 

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