Laws Covering Noncustodial Kidnapping
State Kidnapping Laws
- Each state varies in its laws on parental kidnapping. In some states, a verbal agreement between the parents is sufficient to establish custody, and the noncustodial parent can be prosecuted for failure to return the child after a scheduled visitation, taking the child without authorized visitation or keeping the child for any reason against the child or custodial parent's wishes. Other states require a court order be in place indicating sole custody or that the noncustodial parents rights have been terminated before kidnapping charges can be pressed. Exemptions and corresponding laws further detail those individuals and circumstances in which the noncustodial parent cannot be charged with kidnapping.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
- Enacted in 1980, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act requires states to enforce custody and visitation orders enacted in other states without modification. The act sought to close gaps and provide uniformity to custody cases where the parents reside in separate states. This act outlines how a state must obtain jurisdiction over the case before exercising control and must give full faith and credit to the originating state until such jurisdiction has been obtained. This act gives home state priority to the state the child resides in and the noncustodial parent is prosecuted under the kidnapping laws of that state.
The Federal Kidnapping Act
- Signed into law on June 23, 1932 after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the Federal Kidnapping Act extended federal jurisdiction over interstate kidnapping and was later deemed inapplicable to parental kidnapping where the parent still has legal rights over the child. In its current form, the act applies to kidnappers who cross state lines for the purpose of kidnapping or who cross state lines after kidnapping. A parent whose parental rights have been terminated by court order or who does not have legal sole custody of the minor child who violates the act will be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.
- Countries who are party to the Hague Convention adhere to the International Child Abduction Remedies Act and help facilitate the expedient return of children who have been taken to other countries by noncustodial parents. Orders are obtained through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Each participating country has a Central Authority that addresses the order. This act also contains provisions clarifying foreign custody determinations and when foreign courts must be petitioned for return of the child.