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Parental Kidnapping: Yes it Really Happens, And Yes it’s a Crime in Michigan!

For most of us, when we think of a kidnapping, we think of strangers who steal kids for enormous amounts of ransom money or for sexual exploitation. The kind where the parents are very wealthy, and the FBI gets involved. Say the word “kidnapping” and the visuals called to mind are of Patty Hearst, Adam Walsh, and Amber Hagerman (after whom the “Amber Alert’ is named.) What people don’t tend to think about are the kids who get taken by their own angry and heartbroken moms and dads all over Michigan, in an effort to stay together, when the courts have ruled against them. 

A little girl walking alone through a field of grass and flowers.

Parental kidnapping is a real thing, even here in Michigan

Parental kidnappings sound like a misnomer. Like ‘deafening silence’, ‘farewell reception’ and ‘jumbo shrimp’, the idea of a ‘parental kidnapping’ sounds like an oxymoron. And yet it’s not. While the idea that a parent could be guilty of kidnapping their own child may sound ridiculous (after all, it’s your child! How could you possibly be a kidnapper when you’re just taking your own child somewhere with you?!) The truth is that parental kidnapping is a real thing. And it really happens. Even right here in Michigan. Prosecutors in Oakland County, in Grand Rapids and even in northern Michigan, these cases do get prosecuted from time to time. 

So what is a parental kidnapping, and why does it happen?

Parental kidnapping, which is also sometimes called custodial kidnapping, usually happens because parents feel the custody arrangements or visitation schedules they’ve been awarded by the court are unfair. For example, if the court awards full custody to a mother and only alternating weekend visitation to a father, he may believe this is unfair, and that he has a right to be a regular part of his children’s lives. He may try to have the parenting time schedule modified, but the process is time consuming, and attorneys can be very expensive. As a result, he may become desperate, and decide to take the situation into his own hands.Self help is always a bad idea. 

What does the law in Michigan say about parental kidnapping?

Under Michigan law, parents or guardians aren’t allowed to keep a child away from their other parent if the court has ordered that the other parent has the right to be with that child. It’s important to note that this works both ways. A parent with visitation rights may not refuse to return their child after the visitation period is over, and the parent with full or primary custody may not refuse to allow the parent with visitation to see their child at scheduled times. 

What should you do if you don’t like your parenting time schedule?

What you should NOT do is try to keep your child for longer periods of time than the court has granted you. Even if you believe your parenting time schedule is unfair, or you don’t think your ex deserves to see your child, this could result in parental kidnapping charges! You may dislike your ex, or even think they’re a bad influence, or a danger, which can make handing your kids over incredibly difficult. But the consequences of taking the matter into your own hands are so very severe, it just isn’t worth it! After all, you can’t take care of your kids if you’re serving time in prison! Not to mention the fact that kidnapping your own kids could result in you losing custody all together! 

So what options are available if you want more time with your kids?

Many parents in Lansing, Midland, Livingston County and Grand Rapids believe that their custody and visitation schedules are unfair. If this is your belief, you’re certainly not alone! If you feel that your custody or visitation agreement needs to be altered, or that your children are in danger when they’re with their other parent, you DO have options. An experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney can assist you in finding a safe and legal method (like an Emergency Court Order) to protect your children. And if you’ve been accused of kidnapping your children you’re going to need help from an aggressive criminal defense attorney who understands what you’re up against. Either way we can help. Call The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5245 to discuss your situation. Our attorneys are standing by to help you with a proven record of success during more than 25 years. 

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