This page includes information that is specific to this state about parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful. Custody and kidnapping are particularly complicated and it is important to try to find an experienced lawyer to help you with your case.
- If I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?
- If the other parent takes the kids out of state without my permission, can s/he be charged with kidnapping?
- Can I get temporary custody as part of a protective order against the other parent?
- Can I get temporary emergency custody without a protective order?
If I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?
You can immediately contact a lawyer who may be able to help you try to prevent abduction. For a list of legal resources, please see our OK Finding a Lawyer page.
It is against the law for anyone (including parents and relatives) to maliciously, forcibly or fraudulently conceal a child from anyone who has custodial rights over a child.* If you believe the other parent has done this, you may want to call the police to report it.
If you can convince a judge that your concerns about parental abduction are "reasonable" based on the facts, a court may take steps to prevent the other parent from abducting your child. For example, you may be able to seek an emergency temporary restraining order or temporary custody order in court to ask that the other parent be prohibited from leaving the state with the child. If you already have a custody order, it may be possible to file in court to modify the order to ask that this type of requirement be added to it.
If you think that the other parent may try to take your child out of the country, you could ask the court to hold your child's passport so s/he cannot leave the country. For more information on keeping the other parent from taking your children out of the country, see How can I keep the other parent from taking my children out of the country? on our general parental kidnapping page.
* 21 O.S. § 891; see Wilkins v. State, 985 P.2d 184 (Ct of Crim App. 1999)
If the other parent takes the kids out of state without my permission, can s/he be charged with kidnapping?
The answer to this likely depends on many factors, such as how long the parent is going to be away, what your custody order says about leaving the state (if there is a custody order), and whether or not the parent is giving you all of the information about where the child will be and allowing you contact with the child. Unless your custody order specifically says a parent cannot leave the state with the child, the other parent may be able to do so during his/her time with the child. If you are in the middle of a custody case, often times, the judge will order that neither parent remove the child from the state (jurisdiction) while the case is pending.
Under Oklahoma law, it is illegal for anyone (including parents) to maliciously, forcibly or fraudulently conceal a child from anyone who has custodial rights over a child.*
If you are afraid your spouse may take your child out of state with the purpose of interfering with your custodial rights, there are things you may be able to do. For details, see If I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?
* 21 O.S. § 891; see Wilkins v. State, 985 P.2d 184 (Ct of Crim App 1999)
Can I get temporary custody as part of a protective order against the other parent?
Maybe. It is important to know that having a protective order against the other parent alone does not necessarily give you custody or suspend the other parent's custodial or visitation rights unless the order specifically says that it does. A protective order cannot determine child custody, visitation or visitation schedules, child support except that in a protective order, a judge can temporarily suspend or modify an existing child visitation order to protect against threats of abuse or physical violence by the defendant or a threat to violate a custody order.* Unless the protective order covers the child too, the judge will usually grant exceptions to the other parent for visitation and communication with the child or about the child.
Even if you are not asking the court for a protective order, you may be able to get apply for temporary emergency custody of your child if you can prove to the court that it is necessary to protect you or your child from maltreatment or abuse. See Can I get temporary emergency custody without a protective order?
To get help in filing for temporary custody, contact a lawyer. To find one in your area, go to OK Places that Help page.
* 22 O.S. § 60.4(I)(1)
Can I get temporary emergency custody without a protective order?
When you file a motion for an emergency custody hearing in Oklahoma, the motion (legal papers) must include either:
- a police report, a report from the Department of Human Services (or a report from another independent source) that shows that the child is in surroundings that endanger his/her safety and that if such conditions continue, the child would likely be subject to irreversible harm; or
- a notarized affidavit from someone with first-hand knowledge that the child is in surroundings that endanger the safety of the child and that not granting the emergency custody would likely cause irreversible harm to the child.*
The judge is supposed to hold a hearing within 72 hours. If the judge fails to conduct a hearing within such time, you can bring the motion to the presiding judge of the judicial district, who is supposed to conduct an emergency custody hearing within 24 hours.*
Depending on the specifics of your case, an emergency order can grant you custody, change your custody order, or terminate the other parent's visitation.
If you also file a request for a more permanent custody order before the hearing date, the court will generally have the power to keep a temporary custody order in place until a final hearing.
You may want to consult a lawyer before filing for emergency custody. To find one in your area, go to the OK Places that Help page.
* 43 O.S. § 107.4(A)