parental abduction and divorce

We often hear news announcers talk about child abduction. What occurs can cover a wide range, including:

  • A sexual predator taking a child
  • A non-custodial parent fleeing with a child
  • Parents who fear domestic violence and have disappeared to protect the child and themselves

Texas Law on Child Abduction

Parental child abduction is the offense of wrongfully removing, retaining, detaining or concealing a child from the other parent.

Obviously not all instances of child abduction are the same, and Texas law accounts for such differences. These instances are covered under Texas Penal Code 25:03 called Interference with Child Custody .

Affirmative Defenses for Interfering with Custody

There are circumstances where child abduction has an affirmative defense, meaning an attorney can argue on behalf of the parent accused of child abduction to mitigate or defeat the charges. Affirmative defenses include:

  • When a parent and child are fleeing to escape from family violence
  • When the parent or guardian’s possession of the child was due to circumstances beyond his/her control and the other parent was notified or attempts were made to notify as soon as possible

Child Abduction that Is a Felony

However, all too often during a divorce case, a parent will leave an area with the child to prevent the other parent from finding them or to try to gain leverage in a custody proceeding. Doing so is a criminal offense in Texas, and you can be subject to felony charges.

Illegal circumstances involved with such felonies include:

  • When you are violating a court judgment or order, which includes a temporary order that determined child custody
  • When without authorization you take the child out of the geographic area where the court has jurisdiction during a divorce or child custody proceeding
  • When you take the child outside of the United States without the other parent’s permission and to deprive the other parent of custody
  • When as a non-custodial parent you entice a child to leave the other parent or guardian’s custody without returning the child within three days of committing the offense

Offenses under this Texas law are subject to felony charges with incarceration between 180 days to a maximum of two years and a fine up to $10,000.

Are you struggling with child custody arrangements or facing family violence? Discuss your situation with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Before taking your child away from the other parent, always consult with an attorney. Or, if you are the parent that lost a child through child abduction, find out about your legal rights. C.E. Borman & Associates can provide you with sound legal guidance and help you make the right decisions.