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What is Parental Kidnapping?

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

Parental kidnapping occurs when one parent takes their children to a place where they cannot be found, leaving any information as to their whereabouts and refusing to allow contact with the other parent.

If you are a parent in Nevada, it is important that you know about parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping can be defined as the unlawful removal or retention of a child by one of its parents with the intent to deprive the other parent of access to the child. The law does not explain what constitutes “access” which means it is up to a judge’s opinion on whether or not this has been violated.

Parental kidnappings happen more often than people realize and many cases go unreported since they are resolved without going through court hearings. It is important for both parents to understand their rights to avoid being victimized by someone who should have no contact with them whatsoever.

Can Parents Kidnap Their Own Child?

This is a question we are often asked this time of year.
One of the most common causes leading to parental kidnapping in Nevada is during school breaks when parents living out-of-state are granted summer visitation. For some parents, this time period leads to anxiety and concern over whether the other parent will return the child at the end of summer.

If one parent refuses to return the child after they’ve been overseas, 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 pertaining to parental kidnapping.

Under Nevada law, NRS 200.359, parental kidnapping is willfully detaining a child from someone who has lawful custody over the child. When parents divorce, each parent will be granted legal custody of their child. This is typically detailed in a court order or decree which details both parent’s rights to the child’s care and responsibility for providing for their needs.

The divorce decree outlines a legal custody arrangement in writing, as well as the frequency and duration of visits. It is important for parents to acquaint themselves with the custody rights they have by reading their divorce decree or custody decree.

What if you are not divorced, and the custody order of your child 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 some other order. In the situation of joint custody, when two parents are granted equal parental rights, each parent has lawful custody of the child.

If you kidnap your own child, you risk being prosecuted for a D felony. This criminal conviction could put an end to both custody of and visitation with your children in divorce proceedings.

Parental Kidnapping in Nevada

Custody of Children During Divorce

Parental kidnapping in Nevada can be a hindrance to your case when bringing custody disputes before a court.

A judge can deem an action as 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:


  • In order to avoid being abducted by a parent, check for any court orders and changes before making any plans. Document your efforts to make sure you are in compliance 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, permanently, out of the state with the child unless there is a serious and life-threatening emergency. Prepare to talk about this emergency with a judge.
  • When you want to prevent the other parent from seeing their child, be prepared for a judge to have questions about why.
  • Don’t give the judge any reason to believe you want to keep your ex from being in contact with their child.

If your child needs to be taken out of state, make sure you have the proper documentation and legal paperwork. Obtain in writing the permission of the other parent 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 give back your child, you have a limited window in which 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 what the best course of action is 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 make decisions on behalf of them.

Do the police enforce custody orders?

In Nevada, child custody is managed in a civil court system. In Nevada, police will typically only intervene under one of these situations: if there is an immediate danger to the child or if the other parent has removed them from 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 not aware 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