Is it possible for a parent to kidnap his or her own child? The Code of Virginia says yes. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged abduction and the intention of the parent who takes the child away, parental kidnapping is a crime that can incur serious legal consequences.

A parent who takes his or her own child away from another parent or guardian may act out of desperation or frustration with his or her legal relationship to the children. He or she may not realize that it is wrong to take the child away or comprehend the full implications of the action.

Definition of parental kidnapping

If one parent takes the child away from the other without legal justification, and the purpose is to conceal or withhold the child from the other parent, he or she may face charges related to the crime of abduction. The parent does not have to take the child away by force; it may also be an act of intimidation or deception.

A real-life illustration of this took place in late 2019 through early 2020. According to NBC Washington, a woman from Virginia took her four children away from her husband, reportedly ignoring a court order to return them. She allegedly made accusations of an unknown nature against her husband and his family, but the court did not consider them adequate justification for taking the children away.

Consequences of parental kidnapping

A parent who kidnaps his or her child can face Class 1 misdemeanor charges if he or she does not remove the child from the Commonwealth. However, if the parent takes the child over the Virginia border, he or she can face charges up to a Class 6 felony. In addition, the parent can also face punishment for contempt of court.

The Virginia mother took her children across several states before law enforcement located them in Indiana and alerted the father to come to pick them up. Authorities arrested the mother, reportedly charging her with a felony for violating a court order, along with multiple misdemeanor charges.