While custody and kidnapping are complicated terms, people also have misconceptions about parental child abduction. Parental kidnapping can be defined as the retention or abduction of a child by his parent in violation of the rights of the child’s other parent. It usually occurs when the parents separate or start with divorce proceedings.
While most of the states do not have a penal code entitled ‘Parental Kidnapping,’ others have structured their general kidnapping laws to provide for similar offense.
Factors Determining Parental Kidnapping
- Legal status of the parent convicted of the offense of kidnapping
- Existence of any court orders about custody
- Intention of the offending parent
Generally, both the parents have equal rights on a child. However, a court order limits one parent’s access to the kid. Till the time child custody suit has not been filed, both the parents have the right to meet the child.
While a parent with legal custody of their child cannot be charged with parental kidnapping, the parent violating a custody order can be charged with parental kidnapping.
If a child is born without marriage, the biological mother is given the sole physical custody lest the biological father applies for the custody.
Parental Kidnapping Laws in Georgia
If we talk about Georgia there are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. If the parents decide to live separately, a separate maintenance case needs to be filed addressing the custody and support. When a parent without custody, tries to abduct a child, there shall be movement for the offense of kidnapping to occur which might not be considered merely incidental to another offense if it:
- Isolates the victim
- Makes the commission of the other violation comparatively easier
- Lessens the risk of detection
As per the parental kidnapping laws in Georgia, an offending parent shall be punished by:
- Imprisonment till 20 years if the kidnapping involves a victim aged 14 or more
- Imprisonment for life or by a split sentence till 25 years followed by probation for life, if the kidnapping involves a victim who is less than 14 years of age
- Life imprisonment or death if the kidnapping was for ransom
- Life imprisonment or death if the person kidnapped received physical injury
Parental Kidnapping laws in provide assistance to the state’s criminal justice system on the basis of criminal investigations, forensic laboratory services and computerized criminal justice information.