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What is Parental Kidnapping?

Parental kidnapping is a crime that takes the minor child, by force or trickery, from their lawful custodian after the instigator has obtained custody of the child.

Parental kidnapping happens when one parent takes their children to a place where they cannot be found, refuses to disclose any information about their whereabouts, and denies the other parent contact with the children.

If you are a parent in Nevada, you must know about parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping is the unlawful removal or retention of a child by one of its parents to deprive the other parent of access to the child. Judges decide what constitutes “access,” as the law does not explain.

People often underestimate the frequency of parental kidnappings, and many cases remain unreported as they settle outside of court hearings. Both parents must understand their rights to avoid being victimized by someone who should have no contact with them.

Can Parents Kidnap Their Own Child?

People often ask this question this time of year.

Summer visitation often leads to parental kidnapping in Nevada, especially when parents living out of state are involved. For some parents, this time leads to anxiety and concern over whether the other parent will return the child at the end of summer.

Suppose one parent refuses to return the child after they’ve been overseas. In that case, you might be in a kidnapping situation. Nevada law states that kidnapping occurs when someone willfully seizes, confines, conceals, or detains another person.

In this blog post, we discuss how parental kidnapping is an issue in Nevada and offer some tips for parents going through a divorce.

Parental Kidnapping Laws in Nevada

People often wonder about the law on parental kidnapping in Nevada because it can be confusing and frightening. It can be frightening when you don’t know that Nevada has adopted a law about parental kidnapping.

Under Nevada law, NRS 200.359, parental kidnapping is intentionally detaining a child from someone who has lawful custody over the child. After the divorce, the court will grant each parent legal custody of the child. A court order or decree typically details the legal custody granted to each parent, outlining their rights and responsibilities for the care and provision of their child’s needs.

The divorce decree outlines a legal custody arrangement in writing and the frequency and duration of visits. Parents must acquire custody rights by reading their custody decree or divorce decree.

What if you are not divorced, and your child’s custody order is not legally defined? According to the law, parents in Nevada have “joint legal custody” and “joint physical custody of a child” until a court issues another order. In joint custody, both parents have equal parental rights and lawful custody of the child.

Kidnapping your child can result in prosecution for a D felony. This criminal conviction could end custody of and visitation with your children in divorce proceedings.

Parental Kidnapping in Nevada

Custody of Children During Divorce

When you file a custody dispute with a Nevada court, parental kidnapping may complicate your case.

A judge can deem an action inappropriate with or without evidence of a kidnapping. If you are due to get divorced or in the middle of a custody case, the court will expect you to behave in ways that ensure your child’s safety and best interests.

Here are some dos and don’ts to remember when a custody case is pending:


  • To avoid being abducted by a parent, check for court orders and changes before making plans. Document your efforts to ensure you comply with the court orders.
  • Before taking children across state lines, obtain a written agreement from the other parent to avoid a parental abduction charge.
  • If you anticipate a long-term trip with your child, try to arrange for visits between the child and the other parents.


  • Don’t move with the child permanently out of the state unless there is a severe and life-threatening emergency. Prepare to talk about this emergency with a judge.
  • A judge will likely question why you want to prevent the other parent from seeing their child.
  • Please don’t give the judge any reason to believe you want to keep your ex from being in contact with their child.

Ensure you obtain the appropriate documentation and legal paperwork to take your child out of state. Obtain in writing the other parent’s permission before taking your child absent. Consult with your divorce lawyer.

What to Do If the Parent Refuses to Return the Child?

If the other parent refuses to return your child, you have a limited window to file papers with the court.

The court is authorized to hold a hearing, during which it will determine if the other parent has broken any Nevada laws that may have harmed the child or interfered with the legal custodial rights of one parent.

A judge will decide the best course of action and who to award temporary custody over. This document is now the go-to for families to determine what happens when, who has custody of the child, and who can decide on their behalf.

Do the police enforce custody orders?

The civil court system manages child custody in Nevada. The police in Nevada usually get involved only in two situations: if there is an immediate danger to the child or if the other parent has taken the child out of the state.

Contempt of Family Court

If filing motions to comply with the court order has become a pattern, then contempt of court is the next step.

Most parents do not understand the laws about Parental Kidnapping in Nevada and are unaware of their legal rights.

Contact our Las Vegas Child Custody Lawyer and Divorce Attorney at (702) 474-0500 to schedule your free consultation.


For more information on how can help you with Parental Kidnapping, please contact us at (702) 474-0500, or visit us here:

Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd.

3407 W Charleston Blvd Las Vegas, NV 89102

(702) 474-0500

Parental Kidnapping Attorney Las Vegas