Understanding Colorado Parental Kidnapping Law

Parental kidnapping is a violation of a child custody order and a kind of child abduction. By law, it is illegal to take your children out of the state or country in conflict with your parenting plan and custody schedule. It is also illegal to prevent the other parent from seeing your children in accordance with the custody schedule. In any case, the parent accused of violating a court order could face charges for violating the other parent's parental rights and taking their children out of Denver or other areas in conflict with the parenting plan requirements. 

What Are Some Examples of Parental Kidnapping? 

There are dozens of examples of parental kidnapping and violating another parent's parenting time, but some of the more common situations include:

  1. Unlawfully concealing or detaining a child while preventing them from seeing or being in contact with the other parent
  2. Violating a custody order by taking a child out of the court's jurisdiction
  3. Removing or concealing a child from the home and other parent during any paternity, marriage or custody proceeding
  4. Refusing to return a child to the other parent after the parent's parenting time in their home or elsewhere has expired

For example, imagine if you were to hold your child overnight in your home despite it being the other parent's time to take custody of your child. If you refuse to give the child to the other parent, then you could face penalties for parental kidnapping, child abduction and other child custody child parenting issues. It is never appropriate to withhold custodial time, even if the other parent fails to pay child support or you've had a fight following your divorce. The only exception is in the case of domestic violence, in which the safety of a child takes priority. In that case, it is essential to talk to a criminal defense attorney and to learn more about the legal options you may have to protect your family.

What Should You Do If a Kidnapping Crosses State Lines? 

Kidnappings that cross state lines fall under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Child Custody Act. This act makes sure that courts in any state will enforce your custody agreement. To avoid having a lack of enforcement between states or having problems with law enforcement in the home state, the states have used this act to be in agreement that the initial court will maintain jurisdiction in custody cases. 

Can the Other Parent Refuse to Let You Take Your Child Out of the Country?

Yes, it's possible for the other parent to go to the court and ask that you do not take your child out of the country. For example, if you live in Colorado Springs now but have family in Mexico, your ex-spouse could argue that your children should not be taken to Mexico if they have a fear of the children not being returned. If you'd like to take your children out of the country, it's worth getting legal advice from a family law attorney, so you know that you have the right to do so before you go.

What Are the Penalties for Parental Kidnapping? 

Parental kidnapping is treated harshly in Colorado. The courts have the option of imposing up to six years of prison on a convicted parent. They may also face fines of up to $2,000. This is a Class 4 felony, so it has the potential to impact your life significantly if you are convicted. 

However, there is an affirmative defense in these cases. If you reasonably believe that your child is in danger, or if they are 14 and go with you willingly without enticement or the intent to commit a crime, then you may have a strong defense. 

What Actions Can You Take to Protect Yourself Against Claims of Parental Kidnapping?

As a single parent, there will always be things you want to do with your child, such as taking them on vacations or going out of state to visit relatives. If you plan to take your child out of the state or country, make sure to talk to the other parent about your plans. Give them a good contact number, and be sure that you have it down in writing that they approve of you taking your child away for some time.

Make sure to return your child to the other parent for their visitation times unless the child is in danger if you do so. Additionally, if you plan to make any major changes to your custody schedule, you should apply for a modification with the court and have the other parent sign off on it, too. If they disagree with any part of your plans, you should look into getting legal advice beyond our blog before you move forward with your plans. 


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