What Is Custodial Kidnapping?

What exactly is a custodial kidnapping, you may wonder? Many people likely share that curiosity. While kidnapping is a word that anyone with access to a television in the last five decades has heard about, custodial kidnappings are far more rare. By definition, a custodial kidnapping is when someone kidnaps a child, or children, that are already in their custody. How is that possible, you ask? After all, how can you kidnap your own child? Well, it’s not as hard, or as uncommon, as you might think.


Not too long ago, there was a story reported  in Macomb County about a mother and her three children who were stopped by the border police in the Detroit Windsor tunnel. They were said to be residents of the US, and were entering the country from Canada, but the mother was arrested by border patrol because there was a custodial kidnapping warrant out against her. In addition, the three children, aged 10, 11, and 12,  were listed as missing persons.


We know little else about the situation, other than the fact that the woman is currently in the custody of the St. Clair Shores Police. Her arrest is evidence that custodial kidnapping is a very serious crime.  While we understand that desperate parents may resort to desperate measures when they believe there’s no other way for them to see their children, this is not an option that we would ever advise that any parent take!


Under Michigan law, “An adoptive or natural parent of a child shall not take that child, or retain that child for more than 24 hours, with the intent to detain or conceal the child from any other parent or legal guardian of the child who has custody or parenting time rights under a lawful court order at the time of the taking or retention, or from the person or persons who have adopted the child, or from any other person having lawful charge of the child at the time of the taking or retention.”


What this means is, you may not keep your children away from their other parent if the court has ordered that the other parent has a right to visitation, and/or joint or full custody. Regardless of how much you may dislike your ex, or how poorly you think they parent your children, the law forbids you to keep them from seeing your children if the court has granted them visitation or custody.


It can be very hard to hand your child over to someone who you know is a poor parent, or a verbally abusive parent, or a harsh and restrictive parent, but the consequences of taking the matter into your own hands are so very severe, that it just isn’t worth it. You cannot protect your children if you are serving time in prison, and your actions could result in the complete loss of your children.


If you feel that your custody or visitation agreement needs to be altered, or you believe that your children are in danger when in the care of their other parent, seek the counsel of a family law attorney immediately.  Experienced and knowledgeable attorneys can assist in you in determining a legal method (such as an Emergency Court Order) to protect your children.