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Legal Information: Arkansas

Parental Kidnapping

January 3, 2024

If I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?

Sometimes. This is a concern many abuse victims express because abusers often threaten to kidnap the children to keep the victim in the relationship or as a way of using power and control in the relationship. 

It is best to consult a lawyer to determine what can be done based on the specific facts in your situation. When considering the likelihood that the abuser may kidnap the child, the lawyer will likely want to know:

  • where the abuser’s family lives,
  • whether s/he has ever lived out of state,
  • whether his/her work requires him/her to travel out of state, and
  • whether the abuser has actually followed through on threats in the past.

If you believe that the abuser may take the child out of the country, see How can I keep the other parent from taking my children out of the country?

According to the law, an abuser cannot “abduct” a child if you are married and there is no custody order. Both parents have equal custody rights until a court order awards custody to one of the parents. However, if your spouse has taken the child from you and is denying you contact, there are still steps you can take to try to get the child back such as filing for custody in court and asking for immediate temporary custody if the child is in danger.  We strongly suggest that you consult a lawyer for advice if this is the situation you are in.  You can find free and paid lawyers on our AR Finding a Lawyer page.

Note: If the parents have never been married and there is no custody order, the mother of the child has legal custody by law.1 

1 A.C.A. § 9-10-113(a) & (b)

Can I get temporary custody in an order of protection?

If you get an order of protection against the other parent, it may include temporary custody and/or temporary visitation. Be sure to tell the judge that you want custody during your order of protection hearing so that the judge can consider your request.

When your order of protection expires, temporary custody expires with it. You can ask a judge to extend your temporary custody order if it’s necessary.

However, if you have a custody case open somewhere else when you apply for an order of protection, the judge hearing your case will likely not be able to deal with the custody issue.

For more information, see Domestic Violence Orders of Protection.

Can I get temporary emergency custody?

Perhaps. Judges will usually only grant temporary emergency custody in extreme situations. You will need to prove to the judge that your children are in danger in order to get an emergency custody order.  A judge may give you temporary custody if s/he feels that there is immediate and present danger of abuse and it is necessary to protect you or your children.

Whether you will get temporary emergency custody often depends on the judge. Some judges do not require much proof that your children are in danger, while others almost never grant temporary emergency custody. It is almost always better to have a lawyer helping you file for temporary emergency custody. To find a lawyer in your area please visit the AR Finding a Lawyer page.