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Can You Kidnap Your Own Child? Yes — and It Means Big Trouble.

Those involved in a child custody battle should be aware of the legal consequences of actions that pre-divorce may have been just fine.

Visitation and shared custody arrangements pose their own special set of problems.

Accidental Violations of Visitation Orders

Parents may be used to certain living arrangements and activities with their children that can cause them to accidentally violate orders of the custody arrangement.

Consider that flexibility in schedule and activity is part of most marriages, but during divorce proceedings, spouses are typically in no mood to easily forgive being late or changing plans last-minute.

If court-mandated visitation times are misused or deadlines for returning children are not met, it can become a crucial part of a judge’s custody decision.

In a Difficult Custody Dispute? Don’t Lose Your Kids. Talk to a Divorce Attorney.

Custody Kidnappings Can Lead to Federal Prosecution, Jail Time

While rare, custody kidnappings are even more serious a crime.

While a spouse might threaten to leave with a child or not bring a child home from a visit in a tense moment, acting upon these threats is a grave crime that can lead to prison time.

A recent case is that of a wealthy businessman named Clark Rockefeller who abducted his 7-year-old daughter after the girl’s mother was given sole custody of the girl.

Rockefeller is now being pursued by the FBI, and is believed to be heading to the Caribbean on a yacht he recently purchased.

While this case may be an extreme example, it shows how wanting not to give up a child or even a desire to take revenge on a spouse who was given custody can quickly escalate into a serious crime with federal authorities involved.

Remember, you don’t have to be on your way to the South Seas on a yacht: if the child is taken anywhere without telling the other spouse, it can be considered kidnapping.

It may be hard for some to come to grips with the fact that things have changed in a family to the extent that even during divorce proceedings, parents can no longer go wherever and whenever they want with their children.

But remembering the serious consequences of what happens when these steps to protect the interest of both parents as well as the child are violated could be crucial.