Parental abduction is a distressing and complex issue that occurs when one custodial parent kidnaps their child and takes them out of state or even out of the country. Often pre-meditated and carefully planned, these crimes can have severe legal consequences. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 200,000 children are abducted by a biological parent each year, underscoring the prevalence and seriousness of this issue.

Kidnapping charges can be applied even if the abductor has a biological relationship with the child, leading to potential severe penalties. The act of a family member abducting a child may not always be immediately apparent as kidnapping, but a parent may be deemed guilty if they violate a court order by taking, fleeing with, or concealing the child from the custodial parent indefinitely.



Two primary motivations often drive parental abduction: the desire to protect the child or to inflict harm upon the other parent. In cases where a parent abducts a child to protect them, they may believe that the other parent poses a threat or engages in abusive behavior towards the child. Despite potentially acting in the child’s best interests, the abducting parent is still committing a crime, necessitating a legal response. If facing such a situation, seeking court protection is crucial.

When accused of parental kidnapping, the abductor may be found in contempt of court. Depending on the circumstances, this contempt can take a civil, criminal, or combined form, each carrying the possibility of imprisonment and fines. If the abductor was the custodial parent before the abduction, a judge might grant an emergency custody order, temporarily awarding permanent custody to the other parent if it is deemed in the child’s best interest for safety and stability.

Police involvement is a critical step in locating and recovering an abducted child. However, it is important to note that the police may face jurisdictional limitations and lack some of the specialized skills required for such cases. In these instances, turning to experts like those at Child Recovery International (CRI) becomes essential. CRI’s Operatives conduct thorough investigations, interview persons of interest, determine the child’s location, and deploy qualified experts to facilitate the child’s recovery and return to the proper custodial parent.

If the police are called and the child is reported missing, the abducting custodial parent could face second-degree kidnapping charges, with potential imprisonment of up to 63 months and fines reaching $5,000. Harm to the child during the abduction can escalate the penalties significantly.

For those facing the nightmare of parental abduction, seeking professional assistance is crucial. Child Recovery International provides a lifeline in such situations, offering a free consultation and a comprehensive investigation to reunite children with their custodial parents. The next step to have agents on the ground to facilitate the return of the at-risk, endangered child or children. Victims can contact an Operative at CRI and work closely with their legal representative throughout the process, ensuring informed and strategic actions are taken. To learn more, visit the Child Recovery International website at and arrange a consultation.