What is Parental Kidnapping?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m considering separating from my spouse; what actions should I refrain from doing?”


As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child and keep them safe from all types of harm. Parents keep watch over their children in all circumstances to ensure their safety. The word “kidnapping” brings terrifying thoughts of a child being torn away from a parent without hope of reuniting. While kidnapping by a stranger can happen, it is a rare occurrence. The most frequent type of child kidnapping happens when a non-custodial parent takes the child or refuses to return a child after visitation. Parental kidnapping is a serious concern for many parents. When a parent takes their own child away from a custodial parent, the situation can best be described as parental kidnapping.


a-child-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-family-attorney-300x225North Carolina Kidnapping Laws


The general definition of kidnapping is the unlawful taking of another person against their will. It typically means to seize a person and take them away to another location. Kidnapping laws have evolved through the years beginning with common law. In 1932 Congress enacted the Lindbergh Act that presumes that if a kidnapping victim is not returned within 24 hours, it is presumed they were taken across state lines, making the crime a federal offense. In North Carolina, parental kidnapping takes place when a parent keeps a child away from the other parent as a violation of parental custodial or visitation orders. In other words, a parent who violates court ordered custody or visitation is in violation of kidnapping laws.


How Does Parental Kidnapping Happen?


Most parents obey the law and follow court orders regarding the custody and visitation of their children. Sometimes, however, the situation can get out of control when one parent believes that he or she should have more access to their child. In some instances, the non-custodial parent refuses to return the child after a regular visit. In other cases, the parent takes the child and flees. This can lead to a traumatic and difficult period for parents and children. If you have an acrimonious relationship with your former spouse or if the spouse does not agree with the custody or visitation orders, they could take matters into their own hands. This is a fear that many parents have when they begin co-parenting following a divorce.


What to Do About Parental Kidnapping


When a parent kidnaps a child and refuses to return him or her, there are several options. If the parent violates a custody or visitation order that is in place, you can file a motion for contempt. The court will sanction the parent who violated the order. A parent can also face criminal kidnapping charges if they purposefully kept the whereabouts of your child from you. If you fear the child is in actual danger of harm, you may request an emergency temporary custody order. In some instances, you may need to file a police report. Each circumstance is different, so it is helpful to discuss the matter with a qualified family law attorney. Your lawyer will review the situation and help guide you through the process that best fits your needs.


Parental kidnapping is a serious problem that requires immediate action. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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