What is the Difference between Parental Abduction and Kidnapping?

Parental Abduction and KidnappingThe short answer to the question, “What is the difference between parental abduction and kidnapping?” is very simple: there is none.

When most of us think of kidnapping we think of children being snatched up by strangers, or of Hollywood scenarios involving ransom threats and physical violence. The fact is, most kidnappings are done by parents who decide to ignore court-ordered custodial arrangements and take matters into their own hands. However well-intentioned they may be in doing this, they are, in fact, breaking the law and harming their children.

Parental abduction occurs whenever a parent unlawfully removes a child from the care of a custodial parent with the intent of permanently depriving a parent, guardian or lawful custodian of custody.

There are both state and federal laws in place to deal with this situation. Prior to the passage of the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) in 1980, parents who removed abducted children to other states had an opportunity to ‘forum shop’—that is, to move to jurisdictions that might be more favorable to their custodial claims. The PKPA put an end to that, be declaring that states must respect the custodial determinations made by the child’s home state. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) of 1997, which has since been adopted in all 50 states, further shored up that law, and put in place a set of uniform procedures for dealing with interstate custodial disputes.

Studies of children who have been abducted show that the negative effects of such an action can be enormous. Severe psychological disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder are not uncommon after-effects of such an experience. To put it bluntly, if you are abducting your child you are committing child abuse.

If you are considering taking such a drastic action because you are unhappy with your custodial arrangements our advice is simple: Don’t. The damage to your child’s welfare can be significant, as can the damage to your custodial claim, not to mention possible criminal penalties. Speak to an attorney before you do something rash, foolish, and harmful to yourself and your children.

If your child has been abducted by the other parent, New Jersey residents can file an order to show cause for an emergent hearing, so that a judge can issue an emergency order for the temporary prevention of relocation of your child outside New Jersey boundaries. We have experience in this procedure, and in having these judgments served and enforced outside NJ, so please call us for a quick consult, and ask for Lynda.

For a free consultation about your legal matter call us at 856-227-7888, or contact us at [email protected].


Related articles:

The Children’s Bill of Rights

Child Custody: The Painful Fight

Can I Move from NJ with My Kids After Divorce?



The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.

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