Parental kidnapping in Texas carries serious consequences. It’s a felony that could land you fines and time in prison. It’s also stressful for your children and a mistake you should avoid during a child custody battle. And if it is your ex who has refused to relinquish control of your children, the situation can be fraught with anxiety and frustration.
At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, we have the experience to guide you through child custody disputes in Texas where parental kidnapping may be involved. Contact us today to learn more.
When Can a Parent Be Charged With Kidnapping His or Her Own Children?
Parental kidnapping under Texas law occurs when one parent keeps their children under 18 years of age and refuses to return them to the other parent after their court-ordered visitation period has ended. You can be found guilty of parental kidnapping in Texas if you take your children from your spouse knowing one of three things:
- Leaving with the children violates a court order;
- You don’t have custody over the children; or
- A custody case over your children has been filed.
So, parental kidnapping doesn’t occur if you take your biological children from your spouse while you two are separated and no one has filed for divorce. You have the right to take your children because Texas law considers both you and your spouse to have equal custody rights over them prior to divorce proceedings.
What Should You Do If You Are Thinking of Taking Your Children Out of Texas?
Divorces and child custody disputes are one of the most emotional experiences you could experience. You might feel justified in taking your children and leaving Texas without the consent of the court and your ex. However, if you are in the middle of a divorce and child custody battle, don’t do it.
In Texas, parental kidnapping is a felony that carries prison time and fines as penalties. Plus, since you’re violating a court order, you are providing evidence for your ex to use against you. This could result in you completely losing custody over your children.
There are four things you should do to avoid being accused of parental kidnapping:
- Don’t deny your ex their visitation time for any reason.There are state-approved methods of enforcement to make sure your ex cooperates with your divorce or child custody order, including payment of child or spousal support.
- Don’t take them on any long trips or vacations without your ex’sconsent or another court order. Pick up and return your kids by the day and time specified in your court order.
- Alert the authorities about suspected domestic violence or child abuse.Do it as soon as possible to protect you and your child’s safety.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t take matters into your own hands no matter how bad your situation seems. There are official ways to enforce court orders and preserve the safety of you and your children.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Ex Might Abduct Your Children?
If you have concerns that your ex will abduct your child, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children. The first is to prevent parental kidnapping from happening.
The best prevention tools are an experienced child custody attorney and emergency custody order. The court order could restrict your ex from taking your children out of state or only allow supervised visitation. It will also put your children in your care until a custody hearing.
Once you have been issued the custody order, make sure that your children’s school and anyone else with access to your children has a copy of it. Give them instructions not to release your children to your ex.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Ex Has Abducted Your Children?
If your spouse has taken your children beyond the limits of what the court has allowed, there are four actions you should take:
- Report your children missing.First and foremost, report your children missing. When you file a Missing Persons Report with local law enforcement, show them a copy of your custody order.
- Speak to your attorney.Call your lawyer and request that they pursue a felony warrant and contempt proceeding against your spouse. File for custody in your state and request that the Federal Parent Locator Service be used to track down your spouse.
- Call your friends and family.Contact family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who had contact recently with your ex. Your ex’s attorney should also be contacted.
- Obtain court orders.If your ex has abused you or your children, have your attorney obtain a court order to prevent your ex from contacting you or coming to your home or place of work.
Contact a Texas Child Custody Attorney to Learn More
If you fear your ex might accuse you of parental kidnapping, or that they may abduct your children, we can help. At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, our top priority is our clients’ children and their welfare. If you’d like to learn more about our services, contact us today for a no-risk evaluation.