Have you ever been afraid that your child will be kidnapped by a stranger? Do you know that it’s much more common for a child to be taken away by a parent or another family member? Some people think that you can’t steal something that’s already yours, but when it comes to children that’s not true. Children are not like a piece of property, it hurts them when they are uprooted and kept from other people they care about. If you are involved in a situation where your spouse or former spouse has taken your child without your permission it is important that you contact a Texas child custody attorney immediately.
Is it a Crime to Kidnap Your Own Child?
It’s a crime for a parent, relative, or any other person to take away, hide, or keep a child from the other parent or a person who has rights to the child. Fathers and mothers who have lost or never claimed their legal rights as parents, as well as other relatives, stepparents, boyfriends, and girlfriends without rights to the child also can be charged with child-stealing. Or, they might be charged with kidnapping. Anyone convicted of kidnapping can be sent to prison.
What is a Child Custody Order?
Get a child custody order from the court and follow it. A custody order is a legal paper with a decision by a judge saying when the children are supposed to be with each parent (physical custody and visitation) and who makes the decisions about the children’s health, education, and wellbeing (legal custody). Your order should also say if your child can be taken out of town or out of state for vacations.
To get a child custody order from the court, contact a Texas child custody attorney for assistance in filling a petition, which is a request for custody from the court. Your attorney can help in working out the arrangements of a custody order with the other parent or that parent’s attorney.
Do not prevent the other parent from seeing your child. It is best if you have times you have agreed to, or that are spelled out in a court order. If not, make sure that there are some times when you each see the child. Otherwise, the other parent can say that you are interfering with their right by taking, hiding, or keeping the child from them. This can happen even if there is no court order.
If you have your child for visitation or you have custody part of the time, return the child to the other parent on time. If you are late, you could be accused of the crime of child-stealing.
If you are an unwed parent and you keep the child from the other parent, you also could be accused of child–stealing. If you are an unwed father who has not legally claimed paternity you could be charged with kidnapping if you take the child. If you are an unwed mother, you still need to get a child custody order from the court, even if the child has always been with you.
What to Do If You Believe Your Child Has Been Kidnapped By the Other Parent?
If you believe your child has been taken by their other parent or a family member without your permission and you believe that they are attempting to kidnap your child you should follow the next steps.
- Contact the police immediately and report the missing child
- Contact your child custody attorney to get proper legal counsel
- Call missing children networks to get the word out there immediately
The other parent has no right to take or keep your child away from you if you have sole physical custody. After court-ordered parenting time or visitation the other parent must return your child or let you pick up your child.
What if You are Still Married?
If you are married and there has never been a court order on custody, then it is not a crime for the other parent to take your child from your home. It is not kidnapping under the law. If you think that your spouse may try to take your child out of state or the country it is imperative that you contact a Texas child custody attorney immediately. Your attorney can assist you in legally protecting your child and putting the proper legal documentation in place which prevents your spouse from taking your child without your permission.
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