Know the Laws: California
UPDATED January 2, 2017
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.
Unless both parents agree that a temporary custody order should be granted, a judge in California can only grant an ex parte temporary custody order if there is a proof of immediate harm to the child (e.g., domestic violence or sexual abuse of the child) or immediate risk that the child will be removed from the state of California.*
It is almost always better to have a lawyer helping you file for temporary emergency custody. For legal referrals, go to CA Finding a Lawyer.
You may also be able to get temporary custody as part of a an emergency domestic violence restraining order (DVRO).** In order to learn under what circumstances an emergency DVRO is issued, please see What types of orders are there? How long do they last?
* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 3061;3064
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6252(b)-(d)
Maybe, although it may depend on many factors such as:
You can read about the crime of parental kidnapping (custodial interference) in California on our CA Statutes page. However, if the parent who takes his/her child has a good faith belief that the child, if left with the other parent, will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm,* that parent can file what is commonly known as a "good faith report" with the district attorney's office, which may have an effect on whether or not the parent is prosecuted. You can read the exact requirements of what needs to be in the good faith report, the time frame within which it needs to be filed after leaving, and the next steps that the parent needs to take on our CA Statutes page.
We strongly suggest that you contact a lawyer who specializes in custody mattes who can evaluate your situation and advise you on whether or not you are at risk of committing the crime of parental kidnapping. Go to CA Finding a Lawyer for contact information.
* CA Penal Code § 278.7
If you are involved in a custody case, it may be helpful to provide as much evidence as possible to the judge to support your concern that the other parent is likely to abduct (kidnap) the child. To determine whether or not there is a risk of abduction, the judge will consider these whether or not the other parent:
If a judge believes that there is a risk of child abduction, here are examples of some of the possible measures that the judge can take to try to prevent the abduction:
* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3048(b)(1)
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3048(b)(2)