Judge on benchThis is my next post in a series of articles discussing when parental abduction in Las Vegas, Nevada may lead to a change in child custody arrangements. My previous article provided an overview of the subjects to be discussed throughout this series. It also emphasized the importance of contacting a family lawyer quickly to help resolve such issues. In this post, I will explain what types of behaviors may and may not constitute parental abduction in the eyes of the Clark County Family Court. I will also discuss when such actions may result in a modification of a custody order. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.

Parental abduction is a frightening term for any person sharing custody of a child. Often people think of the obvious circumstance of their co-parent taking the child out of the state or country without their permission and not returning them. Under Nevada law, however, less extreme activities may be considered parental kidnapping. The Court may, for example, find that a parent’s repeated refusal to return a child in accordance with a court order constitutes the offense. A Judge would not, however, consider a single late delivery due to a circumstance outside of the returning parent’s control as a parental abduction. In each case, the Court will review the specific facts to determine if the noncompliance is egregious enough to constitute a violation of the law. In some cases, the Clark County Family Court will modify a child custody order if parental abduction has occurred.

Consider the following examples. The Court issues a custody order granting a mother primary physical custody while granting the father visitation time every other weekend. If he returns the child an hour late one Sunday because they attended a baseball game that lasted longer than planned, this isolated incident would not be considered parental abduction. Now suppose that he is unhappy with the Court’s order and, to make his point, he returns the child to the mother two hours late one Sunday evening. The next week he refuses to return the child at all on Sunday and keeps them through Monday. Despite her attempts to handle the matter reasonably, he continues this pattern for several weeks and then refuses to return the child at all. She is forced to obtain a pick-up order through the Court to have the child returned and seeks a modification of their custody order to further limit the father’s visitation. The Judge may determine that the father’s actions constitute parental abduction and grant her request for a change in custody.

Parental kidnapping is a serious offense. Violating a court order may result in contempt of court charges which are punishable by fines and jail time and may also be a criminal offense subject to additional penalties. Given the seriousness of this offense and the potentially complicated nature of the Court’s analysis, I cannot overemphasize the importance of involving an attorney to represent your interests. I have experience with such matters and am ready to assist you. Contact my office today to speak with a Las Vegas lawyer.