If you are going through divorce and child custody proceedings, you should never leave the state with your child without the direct consent of the court and your former spouse. Even if you are the biological parent, leaving the state with your child could be grounds for parental kidnapping in Texas charges.
When Can You Be Charged With Kidnapping Your Own Child?
However, if you and your spouse have not yet filed for divorce, you do have the right to take your child. Under Texas law, both parents share an equal right to spend time with their children. That means that if you want to surprise your child with a weekend trip, you have every right to do so. Though it may cause more friction between you and your spouse, such a situation holds no legal grounds for parental kidnapping Texas charges.
Again, the example above only applies to parents whom have yet to file for divorce. The example also requires that you are the child’s biological parent. Unfortunately, simply functioning as a parent is not sufficient enough to give you that right. So, for instance, if you’re engaged to someone with a child from a previous relationship, then you do not hold the same rights as biological parents.
Because the law concerning child custody is often complex, many people unknowingly breach grounds for kidnapping charges. Such a charge will hurt your case for child custody. Below we’ll examine the different aspects of parental kidnapping in Texas. For more information, contact a Houston child custody attorney at The Alsandor Law Firm.
Grounds for Parental Kidnapping in Texas
Texas Penal Code Section 25.03 states parental abduction occurs when a parent takes a child (under 18 years of age) knowing either of the following:
- Taking the child will violate a court order;
- They are not the child’s custodial parent; or,
- There is an open custody suit in regards to the child.
The court takes parental kidnapping Texas charges very seriously. In fact, the state considers such a charge as a felony. Because of that, the punishments for conviction are quite severe. In addition to paying a hefty monetary fine, if found guilty of parental kidnapping, you could even spend several years in state prison. Furthermore, if you held your child for ransom, used a deadly weapon at any point, or abused your child, then the court will further increase those punishments.
If You Are Concerned Your Spouse May Abduct Your Child
Divorce and child custody proceedings are incredibly stressful. As such, this stress often leads parents to do irrational things. If you’re genuinely concerned that your spouse may abduct your child, then you must take proactive steps to combat that issue. You and your child’s safety should always come first.
With the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can file a court motion that asks for an emergency court order that grants you child custody until the custody hearing is finished. Remember though that such an emergency order is only temporary. It does not grant your permanent custody of your child. Once the judge has entered a decision, you must adhere to that court order.
Cases of parental kidnapping is very traumatizing for children. This is especially true if the abducting parent brainwashes the child into believing the other parent has died or no longer loves them. Such an act terminates a child’s sense of family and identity, which has long-term ramifications, both psychological and emotional. Parental kidnapping can lead a child to develop post-traumatic stress order, reactive attachment disorder, and other generalized anxiety disorders. Because of the potential trauma child face from parental kidnapping, you must do everything in your legal power to stop it.
Talk to a Houston Child Custody Lawyer
During divorce proceedings, child custody is one of the most emotional experiences parents face. Disputes in child custody cases always involve a range of emotions, from anger and resentment to fear and sorrow. The stress of child custody, coupled with swinging emotions, can lead parents to engage in irrational behavior. You need a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. At The Alsandor Law Firm, we can help guide you through this difficult time. Learn more about parental kidnapping in Texas, and how you can protect your rights. Call us today.