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Can You Be Punished for ‘Parental Kidnapping’ in Your Florida Child Custody Case?


Unfortunately, the term “parental kidnapping” is becoming more widespread in child custody cases in Florida. In some cases, divorced or separated parents can face legal consequences for parental kidnapping when they intentionally take their children away from the other parent without permission or court order.

However, there are also situations in which a parent can be accused of parental kidnapping when, in their understanding, they did nothing wrong. Also, allegations of parental kidnapping are common when either parent is confused about their timesharing or visitation schedules.

If you were accused of parental kidnapping in Orlando or other parts of Florida, consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney.

How Does Florida Law Define Kidnapping?

Chapter 787 of the Florida Statute contains provisions regarding custody offenses and kidnapping. Florida law defines parental kidnapping as forcibly or secretly abducting or imprisoning another person against their will. However, in order to qualify as “kidnapping,” it must be done with an intent to:

  • Commit or facilitate a felony;
  • Inflict bodily injury or terrorize the victim;
  • Hold a person hostage or for a ransom; or
  • Interfere with the performance of any government function, including confinement of a child under the age of 13 in the absence of consent from the parent or guardian.

In Florida, kidnapping charges are punished as a first-degree felony. Further, allegations of child abuse can aggravate punishment.

What is ‘Parental Kidnapping’ in Florida?

When it comes to “parental kidnapping,” the parent who takes a child without the other parent’s permission may not have an intent to terrorize the child, hold them hostage, or ask for a ransom.

Despite this, parents who commit “parental kidnapping” may still face legal consequences in the state of Florida. Examples of parental kidnapping are when one parent moves out of state without a court order or the parent’s permission or refuses to let the other parent see their child.

However, parental kidnapping may be justified when the other parent is being violent or abuses or otherwise endangers the safety of your child. This could result in a dependency action brought by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). This type of legal proceeding is usually initiated in response to allegations that a child is being abused or neglected by a parent or guardian.

What You Need to Know About Parental Kidnapping

When either parent is concerned that their former spouse could violate their effective custody order or a parenting plan or take their child away from them, they can seek additional protections under the Child Abduction Protection Act.

When it comes to creating a parenting plan, the judge is likely to limit one parent’s time with their children if that parent has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, had previous attempts to leave the state or country with their child without the other parent’s permission, or other unreasonable actions.

If you have been accused of “parental kidnapping” or are worried that your former spouse might take away your children, you need legal help from a skilled family law attorney in Florida. Contact our Orlando child custody & timesharing attorney at Greater Orlando Family Law to receive a free consultation. Call at 407-377-6399.

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