hold handsHaving our children kidnapped is one of the worst fears for any parent.
Although we tend to imagine that faceless bogeymen with ransom requests
are the ones responsible, in the vast majority of cases,
who is responsible for the kidnapping. This typically occurs in cases
where a parent does not believe a custody order is best for the child
or is somehow unfair.

Under New Jersey law, custodial interference is a crime. New Jersey Statute
2C13-4 states that it is a crime if a child is “taken, detained,
enticed, or concealed” from the other parent for more than 24 hours.
The offending parent faces harsh penalties, including incarceration, payment
of attorney’s fees for the other parent, and any fees or costs associated
with recovering the child. According to this law, it becomes a crime if
one parent hides the child from the other parent during that parent’s
court ordered parenting time. Note that it is not a requirement that the
offending parent transports the child elsewhere. It is sufficient for
a parent to hide the child or keep the child from returning to the parent
who is supposed to have custody during that time. In addition to state
law penalties, it is possible for a kidnapping parent to face federal
charges. Under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA). If a parent
is charged with kidnapping under a state law and then flees the state
with the child, the offending parent could have federal charges filed
against him or her in addition to the state charges.

There are options to help prevent parental kidnapping. If you believe that
the other parent is about to kidnap your child, it is possible to file
an emergency motion for custody with the court. This emergency motion
could request that the other parent not have any parenting time at all
until the situation has resolved. Alternatively, a restraining order could
be an important or even necessary tool if there is domestic violence or
child abuse involved in the case. In either case, it is important to provide
a copy of the emergency order or restraining order to all of the child’s
caregivers. A common strategy for parental kidnappers is to try to pick
up the child from daycare or school, and then disappear.

Parental kidnapping is extremely serious, and we can help you understand
the penalties and avoid it happening to you.
and help you and your child. Call us at (732) 479-4711 for an appointment.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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