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Legal Information: New York

New York Parental Kidnapping

Laws current as of
May 8, 2020

This page includes information that is specific to this state about parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference. There is also a page for general parental kidnapping 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?

You may want to immediately contact a lawyer who can help you figure out what you can do to try to prevent an abduction.  For a list of legal resources, please see our NY Finding a Lawyer page.

If you can convince a judge that your concerns that the other parent is going to are “reasonable” based on the facts, you may be able to get the court to intervene.  If you are seeking custody of your children, you can ask the judge to include a provision that the non-custodial parent is not allowed to travel with your child out of the state or the country.  Alternatively, the judge may order the other parent to post a bond (money) that would cover the cost of having to try to locate and retrieve your child if s/he were taken.  If you already have a custody order, you may be able to file to modify the order to include one of these terms.  

If you think that the other parent may try to flee with your child out of the country, you could ask the court to hold your child’s passport (and even possibly the other parent’s passport) so the child cannot leave the country.  If your child does not have a passport yet, you may be able to register for the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program from the U.S. State Department, which provides the following service:

“Parents may register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP), one of the Department of State’s most important tools for preventing international parental child abduction.  If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department alerts the parent or parents.  This program provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with the child.”  

1 See the U.S. State Department website

Can I get temporary custody as a part of an order of protection against the other parent?

If the court grants you an order of protection against the other parent, then the court has the power to award you temporary custody as well as temporary child support if you ask for it in your petition.1 Even if you are not asking the court for an order of protection, you may be able to get temporary ex parte emergency custody of your child as part of a custody petition. However, the judge would likely only grant an ex parte custody order in limited circumstances such as if it is needed to protect you or your child from abuse or other urgent circumstances. For more information, go to Can I get temporary emergency custody as a part of a custody petition?

1 NY Fam Ct Act § 842

Can I get temporary emergency custody as part of a custody petition?

If New York is your child’s home state, then you can apply for temporary custody in New York as part of a custody petition. If you are hoping to get an ex parte temporary custody order, which is issued without the other parent being notified ahead of time, judges will usually only grant temporary ex parte custody orders in extreme situations. You may need to prove to the judge that there is immediate and present danger of abuse and it is necessary to protect you or your children or that there are other urgent circumstances.

If New York is not your child’s home state, you may file for temporary emergency custody (jurisdiction) in a New York court as long as your child is currently living in the state and it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child, a sibling, or parent of the child.1 If there is no custody order from another state, then a New York judge could issue a temporary emergency custody order that could stay in effect until the home state issues an order that says otherwise. After six months, if the child continues to live in New York and no other custody petition is filed in another state, then the temporary emergency order could become a final order.1 If there is already a custody order from another state, the New York temporary emergency custody order will state a time period that the order is in effect with the purpose of allowing the victim to go back to the court that issued the original order to try to modify it. However, if the New York judge believes that the child is in immediate (imminent) risk of harm, the temporary emergency order can remain in effect until the original state’s court takes steps to assure the protection of the child. The New York judge is supposed to communicate with the judge in the original state to decide how to best protect the safety of the parties and the child and to determine a period for how long the temporary order will last.2

We recommend that you ask a lawyer for advice in this situation. For information on legal resources in New York, please consult our NY Finding a Lawyer.

1 NY Domestic Relations Law § 76-c(1), (2)
2 NY Domestic Relations Law § 76-c(3), (4)