Kidnapping or Custodial Interference?

One of the most common questions that parents pose to family lawyers arises from threats by one parent to have the other parent arrested for kidnapping.

In the majority of cases where this threat is related to family lawyers, there is absolutely no legal basis to support an arrest.

(Of course, that does not mean that the threatening parent cannot call every law enforcement agency he or she can get to talk to him or her, and attempt to enlist the agency’s aid, witting or unwitting, in harassing the other parent.)

A Texas father was actually recently indicted for kidnapping two of his own children during the parents’ latest custody battle. (The terms of any applicable child custody orders are not known.) The charges pressed were felony charges, imposing penalties of up to ten years.

The man allegedly struck his ex-wife in the head and drove off with two of their children. The man reportedly took the children to a nearby relative’s house for the night – with the intention of returning them to school / daycare the following day.

The man was acquitted.

Part of his defense was that he was incorrectly charged with kidnapping his children. At worst, his attorney apparently argued, he should have been charged with interference with custody. That is a lesser charge, with a maximum penalty of two years.

And, after hearing all of the evidence and circumstances, the jury evidently agreed that the man was not guilty of kidnapping.

Read more in this Midland Reporter Telegram article: Jury clears man of kidnapping charges.