The Underlying Cause of Parental Kidnapping: Domestic Violence.

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Parental kidnapping affects families across the nation. According to The United States Department of Justice, 200,000 children are victims of family abductions per year. Sadly, most people do not realize that domestic violence is the underlying cause in many cases.

When Jacksonville parents/ parents nationwide take their children in domestic violence cases, the kidnapping usually occurs in either of the following scenarios. In one scenario, the batterers take the children in order to harm their victims. In the other, the victims flee with their children in an effort to protect themselves and their children from the batterer’s violence.

Batterers will often use their children as a way to hurt or frighten their former spouse. For example, they may pursue custody or visitation litigation as a means of trying to control their former spouse. In addition, they may use the custody proceedings to obtain more information about their former spouse, to continue to monitor them or to perpetrate additional violence.

Florida Statute 787.03, Interference with Custody, makes it a felony of the third degree to remove a minor child from the custody of any lawful custodian. Any parent (with or without a court order) commits a felony if the parent “takes, detains, conceals, or entices away that minor…within or without the state with malicious intent to deprive another person of his or her right to custody of the minor. However, Florida law does recognize a defense if the fleeing spouse “was the victim of an act of domestic violence or had reasonable cause to believe that he or she was about to become the victim of an act of domestic violence.” For more information on custodial interference, see Florida Statute 787.03