Family Law Attorney in Utah
Parental Kidnapping Specialized Representation Tailored to Your Goals

Salt Lake County Parental Kidnapping Attorney

We Act Fast to Protect Your Child & Your Rights

At Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC in Draper, Utah, we understand the tragedy of parental kidnapping. We know how desperate you are to get your children back safely and how urgent the case is. Our Salt Lake County parental kidnapping lawyers are experienced, compassionate, knowledgeable, and resourceful. Our family law team is eager to serve you in your time of need.

Contact us at (801) 515-4133 today so we can begin helping you get your children back.

Understanding Child Custody & Parental Kidnapping Laws

Child custody matters in Utah are emotional and trying times for parents going through family matters, but nothing is more emotional than when the parent without a custody order kidnaps or abducts a child. Parental kidnapping or parental abduction of a child occurs more than you may think, and child abduction laws in Utah are more complex than you may think, too.

At Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC, we understand the complexity and nuances of the parental child abduction laws and can help you through this process until your child is home safe with you. This means explaining how to file parental kidnapping charges among other things.

What Is Parental Kidnapping?

Parental kidnapping, also known as parental child abduction, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety, occurs when a parent or a family member with no custody order takes, retains, and/or conceals a child to whom they are related.

This is custodial interference, which is a class A misdemeanor in Utah unless the child is taken across Utah state lines, in which case it is a felony in the third degree. Custodial interference is an offense defined by Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-303.

When Is it Considered Kidnapping by a Parent?

According to the state of Utah’s code on custodial interference, kidnapping by a parent occurs when a person without a custody order “takes, entices, conceals, or detains a child” without good cause from his or her “parent, guardian, or other lawful” custody agreement.

The child must be under the age of 16 and the alleged kidnapper must:

  • Know he or she has no right to take the child; and
  • Intend “to hold the child for a period substantially longer than [sic] the visitation or custody period previously awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

In other words, a parent can be found guilty of kidnapping (or custodial interference) when he or she knowingly takes a child under the age of 16 for a longer period of time than what a custody agreement permits.

Is It Kidnapping If There Is No Custody Order?

if there is no court order determining which parent has custody of the child, and your child is taken, the other parent may ask a state judge for a temporary emergency custody order.

These are granted if it can be shown that your child is in immediate harm or that the child is being removed from the state of Utah.

Contact us now to schedule a consultation with our Salt Lake parental kidnapping attorneys!

Consequences of Parental Kidnapping

Child abduction by family membersFor the innocent parent praying for the safe return of his or her child, the consequences are dire and real with the fear you will never see your child again. For the guilty parent who kidnapped the children, the consequences are just as real and manifold.

In this state, parental kidnapping is typically a misdemeanor, but it can be charged as a felony. As a Class A misdemeanor, a conviction of the same can lead to 365 days in jail, a fine of up to $4,750, plus surcharges.

Taking a child out of state without a custody agreement is a felony in the third degree, which — if convicted — carries a prison sentence of up to five years, fines of up to $5,000, and an additional 90% surcharge.

In addition to a criminal sentence, a parental kidnapping conviction can mean the complete loss of child custody or visitation rights. The court may also order the parent to pay restitution for any personal injury damages.

Can a Parent Legally Keep a Child from the Other Parent in Utah?

Generally, the answer would be no so long as there is a custody order or agreement in place. If there is no custody order or if your child is under your control and custody, then you can keep the child from the other parent. If there is a custody order, then you must show good cause for keeping the child from the other parent when he or she is legally allowed custody of the child, but you may still suffer consequences of violating the terms of the custody order or agreement.

Is it Kidnapping to Take a Child Over State Lines?

Taking a child over state lines may or may not be considered parental kidnapping; it depends entirely on whether or not the non-custodial parent or relative has visitation privileges at the time and how long they intended to have the child in their care. For example, a parent with joint custody may decide to take the child to an amusement park in another state when it is their turn to have the child stay with them. This would probably not be a case of parental kidnapping. However, if a parent who does not have custody privileges takes their child over state lines, even for a fun trip, it might be considered parental kidnapping if they did not get the express consent of the primary custodian.

When to Seek the Help of an Attorney

You should seek assistance from an experienced attorney long before the non-custodial parent refuses to return your child or long before custody issues arise and you experience parental kidnapping without a custody order.

Child custody laws for unmarried parents exist for a reason: your child’s protection. These state laws are designed with your child’s best interests in mind. Our experienced Salt Lake County parental kidnapping attorneys can outline and explain these laws for you

Contact Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC Today

Parental child abduction is serious. Children are not always safe simply because they are with a parent or family member. Without good cause, a child’s kidnapping by a parent is alarming and potentially dangerous.

You deserve to have an experienced and compassionate attorney by your side during this difficult time. At Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC, we provide affordable, high-quality legal services to parents throughout the region.

Protect your children and your rights – call us at (801) 515-4133 today to schedule a consultation.


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Meet Our Team

Professional. Confident. Approachable.
  • Eric M. Swinyard Photo
    Eric M. Swinyard

    Founding Attorney

    Eric M. Swinyard is a divorce and family law attorney who serves clients throughout the State of Utah. Eric’s practice is primarily focused on providing personalized, high-quality legal services to individuals involved in divorces, paternity actions, adoptions, estate planning, and other family law matters. It’s incredibly easy to be taken advantage of during litigation, especially if you are unrepresented by legal counsel. Protect Your Rights You don’t want to be in a situation where you need ...
  • Ryan  Ficklin Photo
    Ryan Ficklin


    Ryan Ficklin is an associate attorney at Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC. Prior to practicing law in Utah, Ryan practiced family law in Southern California. In 2017, Ryan relocated back to his home state of Utah to focus on serving the people of Utah who need legal representation, particularly in the family law realm. Ryan graduated with honors from California’s Whittier Law School in May of 2015. While in law school, Ryan was a staff member for The Journal of Child and Family Advocacy. Ryan ...
  • Keith L. Johnson Photo
    Keith L. Johnson


    Keith joined Eric M. Swinyard & Associates in Fall 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience as a trial attorney in various types of legal cases. He has successfully guided hundreds of individuals through Utah’s court system. Keith previously worked at an established civil litigation firm in Salt Lake as well as a mid-sized regional law firm. He has substantive experience in a variety of practice areas and is now primarily devoted to serving individuals involved in family law cases. Keith ...
  • Mark  Hales Photo
    Mark Hales


    Mark Hales has over 17 years of legal experience in the areas of family, criminal, and civil law. He handles all types of domestic matters, including custody, divorce, child support, alimony, annulment, termination of parental rights, paternity, modifications, and adoptions. In addition, he defends clients charged with domestic violence and abuse, stalking, violations of protective orders, and other and criminal charges. Mark is a certified mediator for all legal matters and is also a certified ...
  • Justin  Stringfellow Photo
    Justin Stringfellow


    Justin Stringfellow has practiced family law in Utah for 20 years, bringing a wealth of experience to Eric Swinyard & Associates in areas such as divorce, custody, paternity, modifications, child support, and adoption proceedings. In the early years of his career, Justin appeared on an estimated 1,500 Protective Order matters. He is an expert in dealing with abuse and domestic violence components in family law matters. As such, he was distinguished by Utah's Domestic Violence Coalition. Justin ...
  • Eliza  Crespo Photo
    Eliza Crespo


    Eliza Crespo is an associate attorney at Eric Swinyard & Associates. Prior to joining the firm, Eliza practiced estate planning in Utah. Eliza offers a fresh set of eyes to difficult situations and is passionate about providing excellent and compassionate legal services to her clients. Through personal experience, she appreciates the impact of a listening ear and an effective advocate, especially during times of challenge or transition. Eliza obtained her bachelor’s degree and law degree from ...

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