Parental Kidnapping Attorneys in Salt Lake County
We Act Fast to Protect Your Child & Your Rights
At Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC in Draper, we understand the tragedy of parental kidnapping. We know how desperate you are to get your child back safely and how urgent the case is. Our Salt Lake County parental kidnapping attorneys are experienced, compassionate, knowledgeable, and resourceful. Our team is eager to serve you in your time of need.
Understanding Child Custody & Parental Kidnapping Laws
Child custody matters are emotional and trying times for parents, but nothing is more emotional than when one parent 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.
Defining Parental Kidnapping
Parental kidnapping, also known as parental child abduction, according to Utah Department of Public Safety and in spite of child custody rights or a custody agreement, involves one parent or a family member taking, retaining, and/or concealing a child.
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.
Taking Your Own Child in Utah: When Is it Considered Kidnapping by a Parent?
According to Utah’s code on custodial interference, kidnapping by a parent occurs when a person “takes, entices, conceals, or detains a child” without good cause from his or her “parent, guardian, or other lawful custody.”
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 then [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.
Consequences of Parental Kidnapping
For 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 child, the consequences are just as real and manifold.
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.
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 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 for a free consultation.