THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARENTAL KIDNAPPING
Feb. 1, 2022
Parental kidnapping is a popular term the Connecticut law defines as custodial interference. This specific law applies when one parent tries to flee with the child or prevents the child from seeing the other parent. The law applies to any relative of the child so long as the child is less than 16 years of age.
By precedent, the law does not apply until a custodial ruling in a divorce case. If a parent in a divorce battle fears that the other parent will flee with the child before the divorce is concluded, the parent can seek an expedited sole custody order from the court.
If you are facing a custodial interference charge in West Haven, Connecticut, contact me immediately at Dematteo Legal Solutions. A custodial interference conviction can lead to costly consequences and alter your relationship with your child going forward, so you need the best defense you can find. I am here to help you fight for the best possible outcome in your case. I serve clients also in Milford, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Bridgeport, and New Haven, Connecticut.
WHAT IS PARENTAL KIDNAPPING?
Depending on the terms of the custody order issued or approved by the court, scenarios could be custodial interference or parental kidnapping. For instance, if the non-custodial parent has only supervised visitation rights, merely taking the child away to one’s residence without permission could be considered custodial interference.
If the custody order or arrangement allows one parent only to have weekends, from Saturday morning to Sunday evening, with the child, but instead that parent keeps the child longer or decides to take a vacation that extends beyond the weekend agreement, that could be considered custodial interference.
A lot will depend on the relationship with the other parent. If the other parent consents to an extended visitation, it would not be custodial interference unless the agreement is violated and the child is withheld longer than agreed upon.
CONNECTICUT CUSTODIAL INTERFERENCE LAW
Custodial interference in Connecticut has two offenses. The lesser offense, second-degree custodial interference, is a misdemeanor. The law states that this occurs when according to Connecticut Code Section 531-98:
Being a relative of a child who is less than sixteen years old and intending to hold such child permanently or for a protracted period, knowing that they have no legal right to do so, they take or entice such child from his lawful custodian.
Knowing that they have no legal right to do so, they take or entice from lawful custody any incompetent person or any person entrusted by authority of law to the custody of another person or institution.
Knowing that they have no legal right to do so, they hold, keep, or otherwise refuse to return a child who is less than sixteen years old to such child's lawful custodian after a request by such custodian for the return of such child.
Notice that even if the child agrees to go with the parent, the law specifies that it is custodial interference even if the parent "entices" the child. It does not necessarily have to be an act of physical abduction.
The other charge, first-degree custodial interference, is a felony. This offense can be charged when one of the three acts described above occurs, and the parent takes the child out of state or endangers the child’s safety or health.
PENALTIES FOR CUSTODIAL INTERFERENCE
Even second-degree custodial interference, a Class A misdemeanor, carries serious consequences. It can land you in prison for up to a year and result in a fine of up to $2,000.
First-degree custodial interference is charged as a Class D felony, which carries potential penalties of one to five years in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000, in addition to court costs and fees.
Mutual consent is a rebuttal to a charge of custodial interference, but so also can be the parent’s reasonable concern, or fear, that the child would be subject to imminent harm if left with the other parent.
HOW DEMATTEO LEGAL SOLUTIONS CAN HELP
If you are charged with custodial interference, the penalties can be stiff, and courts tend to take these matters seriously. You will want to mount the best possible defense. Contact me immediately at my firm, Dematteo Legal Solutions, so I can help you fight the charge and seek to protect your freedom and parental rights.
Dematteo Legal Solutions proudly serves clients in West Haven, Milford, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Bridgeport, and New Haven, Connecticut.