Montgomery County Parental Kidnapping Attorneys
Parental Kidnapping and Child Custody Issues
A child is more likely to be abducted by a family member than a random stranger. Parental abductions have become more common since the 1970s due to three major factors: the increase in marriages between couples from different countries, the rising mobility of the U.S. population, and greatly increased divorce rates. The U.S. averages roughly 200,000 parental kidnappings every year. This terrifying issue was addressed internationally in the 1980 Hague Convention, and around 90 countries currently adhere to the convention’s goals of preventing abductions and locating victims.
Pennsylvania Kidnapping Laws
Kidnapping and abduction are often used interchangeably, but kidnapping usually involves the threat or use of force. Pennsylvania defines "kidnapping" as when a person removes another person a substantial distance from the place that person was found. Kidnapping can also occur when a person holds another in confinement or isolation. It is unlawful when done with force, deception, threats, or without permission from a parent if the individual is under the age of 14.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)
Enacted by Congress in 1980, the PKPA is a federal law that acts as a deterrent for abductions by encouraging state-to-state communication, and defining jurisdictional priority. The state where the child has lived for the six-month period before the abduction charges are filed is designated as the "home" state. Another state may not take action regarding jurisdiction when the home state has pending actions.
Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA)
Completed in 2006, the UCAPA was designed to prevent abductions by imposing travel limitations on persons accompanying a child. Some of these requirements include that itineraries must be provided, as well as address and phone contact information, and other travel-related documents. Further restrictions may include that the child not be removed from the state without written permission, or prohibiting contact with the child at school or other unsupervised locations.
America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) System
This system was enacted federally in 2003 to provide critical information about the child and the alleged perpetrator of a kidnapping or abduction. It uses an emergency alert and notification system to broadcast the details to the public via radio, text message, email and more.
There are a few common legal defenses in cases of parental kidnappings. One is that the child gave the person consent, or that the parental guardian consented in some direct or indirect way. Another defense is claiming that there was no intent to inflict harm, that there was a lack of understanding, or that a mistake was made. Lastly, a defense of insanity or a mental condition may be cited as the reason.
Similar Parent/Child Offenses
There are three similar offenses under PA law:
- Unlawful restraint: A parent of a minor knowingly restrains them, resulting in potential exposure to bodily injury or in a state of unwanted servitude.
- False imprisonment: The parent restrains the minor in a manner that limits their right to liberty.
- Interference with custody of children: A parent knowingly removes or entices a minor away from the lawful custodian. In these instances a parent may claim that their actions are not contrary to the court order based on some award of partial custody or child visitation.
For over 25 years, the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. have been proudly serving clients in Montgomery and Chester Counties with the many aspects of family law. We recognize that you and your family deserve individualized and compassionate legal assistance. Contact the office today at (866) 290-9292 for a consultation with a dedicated Montgomery County family law attorney.
- One Year Isn’t Enough: How the Hague Abduction Convention’s One-Year Limitation Encourages Abductors to Conceal Their Child’s Whereabouts
- Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act
- The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws - Child Abduction Prevention
- Amber Alert FAQ