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Child Custody

Parental Kidnapping

Parental KIDNAPPING occurs when one parent deprives the other of his or her legal right to custody or visitation by illegally taking the child out of the jurisdiction. It is outlawed by the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (28 U.S.C.A. § 1738A [Supp. 1993]), which applies the FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE of the U.S. Constitution to child-custody cases, meaning that each state must abide by custody decisions made by another state's courts if the other state would be bound by those decisions. The law was enacted to respond to cases in which one parent leaves the state that has jurisdiction; however, in 1998 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Thompson v. Thompson, 484 U.S. 174, 108 S. Ct. 513, 98 L. Ed. 2d 512, that the existence of two different state-custody decrees is not, itself, a reason for federal involvement under this law.

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act often works in concert with state laws, such as state adoptions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, in order to facilitate the return of a child to the state that has proper jurisdiction. Many of the custody provisions in the federal law are similar to those in the corresponding state laws.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Robert Lee Carter - Further Readings to Child MolestationChild Custody - Divorced Parents, Unmarried Parents, Criteria For Custody Awards, Social Issues: Sexual Orientation And Race - Changing Custody Awards, Termination of Custody