What is Parental Kidnapping?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can I keep my Kids from seeing the other parent?”


Hearing the word kidnapping in relation to your child can be utterly terrifying. When most people hear the term kidnapping, they probably think of a stranger abducting a child. Most people do not think of a kidnapping happening by one of the child’s own parents. They might think that a parent cannot kidnap his or her own child. However, parental kidnapping happens more frequently than one might think. In fact, parental kidnappings are not uncommon. Studies estimate that over the course of a year, 200,000 children were kidnapped by their own family members. An average of 800,000 children go missing each year. This breaks down to an average of about 2,000 children a day going missing.


Child-in-car-Charlotte-Monroe-LKN-Child-Custody-Lawyer-300x149Couples locked in bitter custody battles can find themselves facing the reality of parental kidnapping. Generally, kidnapping is taking a person without his or her permission. This can be done by force, fraud, deception, or any other means. Parental kidnapping is when one parent takes a child when that parent does not have permission or legal custody to do so. Parental kidnapping can include:


  • A parent taking the child in violation of a court order not to do so; or
  • A parent taking the child when there is no permission to do so; or
  • A parent taking the child when the parent specifically lacks the legal custody to do so.


Parental kidnapping might not be specifically outlined in North Carolina law, but the elements of kidnapping in general must be met and then related to the parental relationship:


  • Maliciously taking the child from the lawful custodian, keeping the child away, withholding the child, or concealing the child from the lawful custodian
  • The child is under the age of 16
  • The parent who took the child does not have legal custody of the child to take him or her somewhere without permission of the person with legal custody
  • The language of the law allows for a parent to be found guilty of kidnapping.


Not every couple that is going through a divorce needs to worry about parental kidnapping. Couples that are divorcing amicably and are able to make child custody agreements they both agree to are likely not going to have kidnapping be an issue. Those couples in more contentious divorces and bitter child custody disputes might find themselves in a situation in which a parent is taking the child without the legal means to do so. If you are fearful of your spouse taking your child, speak up. Do not wait until it is too late. Both mothers and fathers have committed parental kidnapping.


The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you with your custody needs. If you think that your spouse is going to take your child, you must speak with your attorney. We will do everything possible to keep your child safe during the custody proceedings and get you the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances. Contact us today for a consultation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until spring 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two 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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