If you’re currently involved in a divorce or a child custody dispute, no parent has the right to flee with their child. Despite being the child’s biological parent or legal guardian, if a person takes his or her child, it is considered kidnapping in Texas.
Texas Law on Parental Abduction
According to Texas Penal Code Section 25.03 Interference with Child Custody, an individual commits parental abduction if he or she takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age with knowledge of the following circumstances:
- Taking the child is a violation of a judge’s order
- The individual was not awarded custody of the child
- A custody suit is filed regarding the child
Parental abduction is considered a state felony charge, which is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if a child was held for ransom, the child was abused, or a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime, the penalties and charges will increase.
What You Should Do If You’re Worried about Parental Abduction
It is not uncommon for a parent to take their child out of state pending a custody hearing. If you are genuinely worried about your spouse fleeing with the kids, you may be eligible to request for an emergency custody order from the judge in charge of your case. This order would temporarily place the child in your care until the custody hearing concludes.
If your spouse does take your child out of state in violation of the TX penal code, you are able to press criminal charges. Law enforcement can locate and retrieve your child.
If you require experienced legal assistance filing for custody or obtaining an emergency custody order in Texas, contact our Houston divorce lawyers at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC today.