Southern California Family Law Blog

parental kidnapping

Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (the Act) aims to deter parents from kidnapping their children by ensuring that other states honor child custody and child support orders issued in one state. The Act was designed to promote the best interest of the child and to have a quick way to remove any conflicts of law between states.

The Importance of the Act: First in time, First in Right

The Act requires that other states honor the sister state’s child custody decrees as long as it meets the provisions of the Act. The Act allows the enforcing state to enter a custody decree as long as that state had jurisdiction under its own local law and meets one of the following conditions:

  • The child’s home is or recently has been in the state
  • The child has no home state and it would be in the child’s best interest for the State to assume jurisdiction or
  • The child is present in the state and has been abandoned or abused

Once a state enters a child custody decree consistent with the provision of the Act, another state is precluded from doing the same.1 Additionally, the enforcement of the state decree under the Act will continue as long as the parent or the child remains in that state.

However, despite its procedural advantages, the Act still gives priority to the “home state.” The home state is defined as the state in which the child has lived for six consecutive months prior to a petition being filed. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act also prioritizes the “home state” even if the child has since left home. However, laws such as these lack kidnapping prevention measures like many state laws.

Abduction Prevention

Unfortunately, many instances of kidnapping happen before either parent has an opportunity to file for child custody. The Act is premised on the general principal that preventing child abduction is always in the best interest of a child, despite a kidnapping parent’s motives. The chances of child abductions are increased when child custody orders lack specific child custody and visitation arrangements. The Act attempts to prevent this by identifying increased risk factors, including:

  • Previous attempts to abduct the child
  • Threats to abduct the child
  • Abandoning employment
  • Selling a primary residence
  • Terminating a lease
  • Closing bank or other financial management accounts
  • Liquidating assets, hiding or destroying financial documents, or conducting any other unusual financial activity
  • Applying for a passport or visa, or obtaining travel documents2

For international abductions, countries that have adopted the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction will facilitate the safe return of the child.

Call the Child Custody Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are facing a child custody case, you need to speak to an experienced child custody attorney at Wallin & Klarich right away. Our firm can represent and advise you to help you argue for or keep custody of your children. Our attorneys have been successfully representing our clients in child custody cases for over 30 years.

We have offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. We are able to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. Thompson v. Thompson (1988) 484 U.S. 174, 176-77 [108 S.Ct. 513, 515, 98 L.Ed.2d 512]

2. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1738A (West)

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