Parental Kidnapping and Family Law in TennesseeThis past May, a woman from Memphis temporarily lost custody of her young toddler son during a difficult divorce. In June, the woman was arrested in Michigan for kidnapping.

But it gets worse. When she was found in a Dearborn, Michigan hotel room, not only was her son kidnapped, but so was the boy’s 30-year-old father. She also had her 7-year-old son from another partner with her in the room. The toddler’s father, who had previously been granted full custody, returned to Memphis with his son. The seven-year-old son was released to an aunt in the Dearborn, Michigan area. When police did a background check on the mother, they found several active warrants from the 19th District Court of Tennessee.

Understanding laws around kidnapping in Tennessee

State law addresses kidnapping as false imprisonment under circumstances exposing the other person to substantial risk of bodily injury. As defined by  § 39-13-302, a person commits the offense of false imprisonment when one knowingly removes or confines another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with the other’s liberty. Kidnapping is a Class C felony, and false imprisonment is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

Your Franklin divorce attorney can help you understand circumstances that could be considered kidnapping or false imprisonment of your own child. Here are some things to consider when you are consulting with your legal team:

  • If you are still married and there is no court order of temporary custody, it is not illegal for the other parent to take your child. Should you be concerned about a flight risk or unstable situation for your child or children, talk with your counsel about your options.
  • If you have sole custody in your parenting plan and are not married, it is illegal for the other parent to take your child without notice and consent.
  • If you share custody in your parenting plan and are not married, what constitutes kidnapping and what does not can be complicated. Make sure to review these parameters with your Franklin family lawyer.

If your former spouse or partner—the other parent of your child or children—takes or keeps your child when they have no right to, you should:

  • Call the police immediately.
  • Call your attorney and begin the process to file criminal charges.
  • Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, if the police or your lawyer do not do this for you.
  • File your complaint in Probate and Family Court.

If you are unsure of what your parenting plan and custody agreement look like, and you would like to take your child out of town, on a vacation, or to see family in another state, make sure you have consulted with your lawyer or the court so that you are not falsely accused of kidnapping your child or children. Sometimes good people make mistakes, and you can avoid that by knowing and abiding by the parameters of your parenting plan.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, there are experienced and dedicated divorce and family law attorneys who can help you understand more about kidnapping during divorce proceedings, file charges if your child has been kidnapped, and potentially help you alter your parenting plan or custody agreement if necessary. If you need a family law advocate with years of experience to represent you in your Franklin, Brentwood, or Columbia divorce, call us at 615-977-9370 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation.