In a press release from Senator Dianne Feinstein, she said half of the 246 cases of parental kidnapping in 2020 were in California. Obviously, the issue grabbed her attention and pushed her into speaking out.
But to the public, it may be unclear what this is. Parental kidnapping occurs when one parent unlawfully takes their child away from the custodial parent without permission or a court order. This act not only inflicts emotional trauma on the child but also has significant legal ramifications for the offending parent.
The offending parent
From a legal standpoint, parental kidnapping is a crime. It is a direct violation of a court order in most cases. Sometimes, it is a violation of a protection order or a custody order. It may also interfere with child services actions. Typically, when parents kidnap their children it is because they had some ruling against them as not being a fit parent or a history of putting their children in danger.
The parent who took the child will face criminal charges, which might result in imprisonment, fines and other financial penalties. The severity of the punishment often depends on how extensive the search was for the child and the extent to which the parent went to keep the child hidden or away from the custodial parent.
The child and other parent
One of the most evident consequences of parental kidnapping is the emotional turmoil inflicted upon the child. They may experience intense feelings of abandonment, confusion and fear. These emotions can linger for years, leading to trust issues and difficulties in forming healthy relationships in adulthood.
Children subjected to such an ordeal may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. These mental health challenges can persist well into adulthood, affecting their overall quality of life.
Parental kidnapping often leads to abrupt changes in a child’s living situation, resulting in frequent school transfers and disrupted education. This instability can hinder a child’s academic progress and limit their future opportunities, potentially perpetuating a cycle of disadvantage.
Moreover, the custodial parent faces the anguish of not knowing their child’s whereabouts or well-being. This can lead to emotional and psychological issues for the parent left behind.
When a parent chooses to illegally take custody of their child, it has a ripple effect. The consequences can be far-reaching. For this reason, the government usually takes a hard stance in these cases.