Child custody and visitation agreements are typically the most emotionally charged and stressful negotiations during a divorce settlement. Each parent involved in the divorce process may want legal custody of their child, but the court may grant equal rights to both parents, which gives each parent the right to make decisions for their child.
Even when the court has mandated visitation and custody rights, parents may find it difficult to comply. Parents can disagree on the amount of time each gets to be with their child, or they may disagree on how one parent chooses to exercise their right to enforce their visitation and custodial arrangements. These types of arguments can lead to emotional decisions where a parent may resort to kidnapping their child.
Parental kidnapping occurs when one parent abducts the child, takes the child out of the United States, refuses to return the child within 48 hours after demand, or harbor or hide the child in another state. Until a court order has been issued that defines specific parental rights and visitation arrangements, parents are equally entitled to take their child wherever they want, whenever they want.
If a parent takes a child away in violation of a custody order, that parent can be liable civilly and criminally. Civilly, the custodial parent can file a petition for contempt asking the court to hold the non custodial parent in contempt of the prior contempt order. The court can jail the non custodial parent if he/she does not follow the orders of the court.
A parent that violates a child custody agreement can be charged with a crime if they take a child under the age of 16 away from the custodial parent. The custodial parent has rights that were given to them when the custody arrangements were made. The violating parent that interferes with these arrangements can be found guilty of custodial interference or parental kidnapping.
Penalties for parental kidnapping in Maryland vary and depend on the length of time the child was kept by the offending parent and how far the child was taken. Local law enforcement, state police, and the FBI can become involved in locating the child and prosecuting the parent responsible for the crime. A family court judge can modify or cancel the previous child custody and visitation agreements that were made prior to the parental kidnapping. The judge can also impose financial penalties, order rescheduled visitation orders, and change the conditions of the visitation and custody arrangements.
Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Parents Involved in Custody Disputes and Parental Kidnapping
If you are a parent experiencing problems with child custody arrangements or the enforcement of child custody agreements, the Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help. Call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland to serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Towson, Monkton, Sparks, Parkton, Pikesville, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.