Guide: Michigan Parental Kidnapping Laws

missing children in Michigan

missing children in Michigan

Most of us know what kidnapping is all about. For example, a child gets abducted and the individual responsible demands ransom money or gives specific conditions for the child to return home safely. But what most of us may not know is that a parent with legal custody of their child can face charges and convictions for parental kidnapping.

When parents get divorced, the court decides who gets to live with the kids on certain terms and conditions, and most times, parents share custody of their children. Parental kidnapping happens when one parent keeps and conceals a child from the other parent, or when they fail to follow specific parenting schedules. Parental kidnapping is a crime that can result in fines or years of imprisonment.

There are several types of parental kidnapping, the most common one is when a parent flees to a different state temporarily in hopes of gaining all the parental rights or finding favorable laws so they can have the child with them. Most states have mandatory joint custody laws. So, most of the time, a parent who flees to a different state with a child may intend to permanently deprive the other parent of parental rights.

How Are Parents Guilty of Parental Kidnapping in Michigan?

If the prosecutor can prove the following points without any reasonable doubt, then an individual can be charged and convicted of parental kidnapping:

  • That the parent in question took and kept the child away from the other parent for more than 24 hours.
  • That the parent had intentions to permanently deprive the other parent of their parental rights. Or had intentions to keep the child from legal guardians with legal custody or visitation rights at the time.

Under the law, there’s no requirement that a parent is formally served with custody or parenting time before he or she can be charged with parental kidnapping. It is the duty of the parent to return the child to the other parent or legal guardian as instructed by the court.

Penalties for Parental Kidnapping in Michigan 

Parents who are found guilty of parental kidnapping will face the following penalties

  • They are required to pay a fine of up to 2, 000 pounds
  • May face imprisonment for 1 year and one day in jail

Parental Kidnapping is a serious crime in Michigan and should never be taken lightly. Upon conviction and in addition to the penalties mentioned above, the parent who adopts the child, will be asked to pay for all the financial expenses incurred as a result of trying to locate the child. Parents should always think twice before violating court orders.

Exceptions to Parental Kidnapping Charges

A parent can be protected from parental kidnapping charges by Michigan laws if they can prove that the other parent endangered the child, and that the child needed their protection. After presenting the evidence without any reasonable doubt, the judge may evaluate the circumstances and pass the final verdict.

Does the state involve law enforcement in parental kidnapping cases?

When a child abduction case is serious, Michigan law enforcement agencies may assist. Examples of serious child abduction cases include anticipated abusive parental kidnapping cases or when the parent flees to another country with the child. However, most minor parental kidnapping cases are assessed in the family court where they handle the situation with care after evaluating both sides.

How to Prevent Parental Kidnapping

To prevent parental kidnapping, both parents must honor the child custody agreement stated in court. The court always rules the case with the child’s interests in mind. Parents who put their children in such situations should always think of the harm they might cause before making any harsh decision.

Contact Us

If you’d like to know more about how the Michigan handles parental kidnapping cases, reach out to us at the Committee for Missing Children and get a free consultation with one of our family law attorneys who are always ready to help and point you in the right direction so you and your family can live peacefully again.