Home Delaware County Parental Kidnapping

Parental Kidnapping Lawyer in Delaware County

Aggressive Legal Representation from a Woman Who Cares

Every custody agreement in Pennsylvania is based on a court order, and parents or guardians face serious legal consequences when these agreements are broken. A parent who takes physical custody of a child in violation of a custody agreement without getting consent from the custodial parent may be found guilty of kidnapping.

Parental child kidnapping may be prosecuted as a felony in Delaware County, and it carries penalties of up to seven years in prison, even when no force was used to abduct the child!

It feels horrible not knowing where your child is. If your ex-spouse has taken your child without permission, you’ll want to inform law enforcement officials right away. And there are additional legal steps you can take to help resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Sheryl R. Rentz has been practicing family law for over 25 years. She’ll advise you on the best course of action and take care of any legal actions and court filings you need to complete to help get your kid home safe as quickly as possible.

Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. to learn more today. You can reach us at (866) 645-0100.

Back to Top

What Is Parental Kidnapping?

Each parent in the custody plan has specific rights regarding how and when they are allowed to see the child. This often involves a child splitting time between different households.

Pennsylvania courts encourage parental involvement in the lives of their children. But parents must adhere to the custody agreement. If a parent wishes to be with a child at a time not stipulated by the custody agreement, they must first get permission from the other parent.

In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to knowingly or recklessly take a child or entice them away from their legal guardian. If your ex-spouse refuses to return a child who is under 18, you can immediately file a petition of contempt based on the custody court order.

A judge will then file a warrant for you to take physical custody of your child. At this point, law enforcement officers have the right to take custody of your child and arrest your ex-spouse for kidnapping.

Your ex-spouse may be found guilty of abduction if they commit any of the following actions:

  • Removing a child from school without permission
  • Refusing to return a child when they are supposed to
  • Taking your child out of state or away from the local area
  • Using deception to convince the child to come with them
  • Using force or the threat of force

Back to Top

What If Your Ex-Spouse Threatens to Take Your Child Without Permission?

There are legal actions you can take if your ex-spouse threatens to take your child without permission, or if you fear they might be planning to flee the state or the country with your child.

You may petition for a court order to alter your ex-spouse’s existing custodial rights if you have a credible reason to believe they are planning an abduction. You’re more likely to obtain a court order if your ex-spouse:

  • Is threatening to abduct the child
  • Kept the child without permission in the past
  • Previously attempted to abduct the child
  • Is engaging in suspicious activities, like applying for a passport
  • Has a history of domestic violence, stalking, or abuse

Back to Top

Child Kidnapping Laws

There are state and federal laws designed to prevent parental kidnapping. Pennsylvania has passed laws in accordance with the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA). This is a set of guidelines that courts in several states follow during custody disputes to help identify families at risk and prevent abduction.

The federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) establishes jurisdiction in cases where more than one state is involved in a custody battle. The PKPA ensures jurisdiction to the abducted child’s home state if the child has been living there for at least 6 months and it also provides additional criteria determining jurisdiction between states.

Parental kidnapping may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Pennsylvania depending on the circumstances. Second-degree felony child kidnapping carries up to 10 years in prison and it may be charged when the child is physically restrained or held involuntarily.

Back to Top

Legal Defenses Against Child Kidnapping

Child kidnapping is an extremely serious charge in Pennsylvania. But there are legal arguments that may be used effectively by the defendant’s attorney, including:

  • You had consent from the other parent.
  • There was no intent to harm.
  • It was a misunderstanding or mistake.
  • Your actions were not contrary to a court order.
  • You believed your actions were necessary to protect the child’s welfare.

Back to Top

Are You Involved in a Delaware County Custody Dispute?

Sheryl R. Rentz is a compassionate and forceful Delaware County family law attorney. She knows how to guide you through these difficult times, and she has a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.

Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. to learn more today. (866) 645-0100.

Back to Top

We know your problems are unique & special.
Call us, we will listen.
(610) 645-0100