When Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl from Arlington, Texas, was abducted in January 1996, grassroots support, public outcries, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children came together.
In 2003, America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) plan came to be. Since the inception of Amber alerts, just over 1,000 children under 17 were successfully recovered. Parental abduction is an emotionally charged traumatic event, and it is a criminal offense in every state – Possession, in this case, is not nine-tenths of the law.
Is The Risk Worth the Consequences?
Dissolving a marriage or committed relationship is one of life’s great stressors. The data collected by law enforcement officials tell us that most child abductions are at the hands of a parent or close relative. When a family unit is in distress, sometimes emotions overshadow reason. Faced with the impending loss of a solid parent-child relationship, one parent may resort to taking matters into their own hands.
Whether the abduction is carefully planned, a knee-jerk reaction to a contentious child-custody battle, or a desperate attempt to escape from a potentially dangerous situation, there are possible residual effects for the child—such as depression, fear, anger, helplessness, and a loss of stability. Children abducted by family sometimes face long-lasting emotional scars and can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The offending party may face civil and criminal charges and the risk of:
- Jail time
- Loss of custody
- Loss of visitation rights
- Being labeled as a felon
Are you facing parental abduction or custodial interference charges in Harlingen? Take a step in the right direction to protect your rights and your freedom. Contact Kenny Perez Law as soon as possible.
Marital Status and Custody Matter
When dealing with the abduction of a child, the courts will consider the marital status and the court-ordered custody ruling.
The outcome of parental kidnap accusations can differ substantially when dealing with:
- Married biological parents
- Non-married biological parents
- Separated parents
- Divorced parents
Both parents have an equal right to spend time with their children. Before filing for a divorce, either parent can legally take the children anywhere at any time. While doing so may be upsetting to the other spouse, it is not illegal, and it is most certainly not considered kidnapping. On the other hand, separated or divorced parents may have a custody order in place. Violating the terms of such an order can, and usually does, have serious repercussions. Contrary to popular belief, not all custody is created equal.
Physical custody means which parent has the legal right to have the child with them at a particular time. This type of custody may be shared jointly (although not always equally), or one parent may receive sole custody. In a sole custody order, the noncustodial parent may receive visitation privileges.
Legal custody gives the parent, or parents, a right to make certain important life decisions on behalf of the child. These may include religious training, medical care, and educational options.
Violating a person’s legal custody rights has legal consequences. It is not only parents who attempt to remove a child; sometimes, other family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, or other members of the noncustodial parent’s community support group do so.
The child’s mother often has immediate and full physical and legal custody if the parents are not married. Even if the father acknowledges the baby as his, he must establish legal or biological paternity before an unmarried father can receive custodial rights.
Reasons Why Family Members Become Abductors
- They are unhappy with court-mandated decisions
- Denial of visitation rights
- They believe they are protecting the child
- They are opposed to divorce or separation
- They disagree with the other parent’s lifestyle
An estimated 2,300 children are reported missing in the United States every day, and in one recent calendar year, 3,588 children in Texas were reported missing. Take a step back and take a breath before you consider removing a child from the home where they belong. Before doing something potentially illegal like hiding or harboring a child, choose to protect the child and your rights as well as your future. Contact Kenny Perez Law. Our attorneys are standing by, readily available to take your call, even on weekends and holidays. Our consultations are always free, and Se Habla Español.
Family Abductions Are Often Complicated
Custody disputes can sometimes lead to wrongful kidnappings or abduction charges. Many sets of parents reside in different states, making visitations a potential point of contention as children are transported across state lines. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) is a federal law enacted to address such issues. It defines the child’s home state as the place where the child lived (for at least six months) before a legal custody determination.
Because each state has specific criteria, guidelines, and penalties in domestic abduction cases, you need a defense attorney with a strong focus on the complex area of our legal system where family law and criminal defense law intersect.
There Are Actionable Defenses to Parental Abduction/Kidnapping
- The accused parent was entitled to custody
- The accused was fearful of violence and harm to the child
- Circumstances prevented the accused from returning the child
- Proof the child was in danger
- The child told the accused they are being abused
- The accused believed they had permission to take the child
Kenny Perez Law represents individuals accused of committing parental abduction, custodial interference, and kidnapping. Contact us immediately if authorities accuse, investigate, arrest, or charge you in a child abduction matter in Harlingen. Our telephone line is open 24/7 at (956) 544-9292, or you can reach us through our contact page.
Kenny Perez Law
513 E Jackson Ave # 304,
Harlingen, TX 78550
“Definitely a law firm that you can trust! Professional, reasonable, and knowledgeable. The legal team has great customer service skills. They were able to help and guide us every step of the way after our accident.” – Cynthia Barrera
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