If you’re in the middle of a divorce or a child custody dispute, you do not have the right to flee with your child. In fact, even if you are the child’s biological or legal guardian/parent, if you take your child, it may be considered kidnapping. To legally take your child out of state when you don’t currently have permission, look into modifying a child custody agreement. Here’s what you need to know about what parental kidnapping is, as well as the penalties it carries.

Texas Law on Parental Abduction

Texas is one of the states in the nation that has a particular law regarding parental kidnapping/parental abduction. Texas Penal Code Section 25.03 Interference with Child Custody reads that a person commits parental abduction if he/she takes or retains a child younger than the age of 18 with the knowledge of the following.

  • Taking the child violates a judge’s order
  • The person was not awarded custody of the child
  • A custody suit was filed regarding the child

A noncustodial parent is also guilty of committing parental kidnapping if s/he knowingly persuades the child to leave the custodial parent.

Penalties for Parental Kidnapping

Under Texas Penal Code, parental kidnapping is a state felony charge. As such, penalties may include up to two years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

The penalties and charges may extend beyond $10,000 and two years in prison if one the following applies.

  • The child was held for ransom
  • A deadly weapon was used
  • The child was abused

What should I do if I’m worried about parental kidnapping?

Having fears about your spouse taking your child out of state pending a custody hearing is not uncommon. If this is a genuine worry of yours, you may be able to ask the judge in charge of your case to grant an emergency custody order. This order would temporarily place the child in your care until the custody hearing is concluded.

If your spouse/the child’s parent does take your child out of state, you can press criminal charges. Law enforcement can help you to locate and retrieve your child.

Take Custodial Action Now

The custody of your child is one of the most critical issues you’ll face during a divorce or separation. If you need help filing for custody, getting an emergency custody order or establishing yourself as the best custodial parent before a judge, an attorney can help.

Erick Platten can help you to understand the many factors that play into a custody hearing and decision. Contact us now 903-593-9100 to learn more.