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What constitutes parental kidnapping and its ramifications

When two parents separate and do not agree on the care of a child, it can lead to animosity and possible concern. One parent might even feel the need to take the child to protect or properly care for them. Unfortunately, this may be grounds for parental kidnapping.

In Massachusetts, there are clear laws and penalties that govern parental kidnapping cases. If you face kidnapping charges as a parent, there are a few things you will want to know.


As with other types of charges, the legislation governing parental kidnapping is different in some states, so it is important that you are familiar with Massachusetts law. In this state, the parental kidnapping act, M.G.L.A.c. 265 § 26A, details the terms of parental kidnapping and its set punishment. In short, it is when a parent without legal custody takes the child for longer than the visitation period.


Considering the stipulation of the law, a “lawful custody” defense could aid in your case. In other words, if you share legal custody of the child you may be able to beat the charges against you. A knowledgeable attorney can help to cultivate and argue your case. With extensive knowledge of how the law works and experience from previous cases, you may beat the case or at least face penalties that are not as harsh.


There are strict penalties for a parental kidnapping conviction. A parent may face up to 15 years in prison, as well as a $1,000 fine and court fees. As with any other charge by the court, it does go on the individual’s record, which can affect future professional endeavors and constitutional rights, such as bearing arms. An individual with this conviction may even face travel limitations.

As you can see, a parental kidnapping charge is quite hefty. However, if you have legal rights to your child, you may possibly be able to beat it. Even if you do not have legal custody, it is a good idea to be abreast of the law and the charges that you face.

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