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Legal Information: Oklahoma

Parental Kidnapping

Laws current as of July 3, 2024

If the other parent takes my child out of state without my permission, can s/he be charged with kidnapping?

Whether or not the other parent can legally take your child out of state against your wishes likely depends on many factors, such as:

  • how long the parent is going to be away;
  • if you have a custody order and what it says about leaving the state; and
  • whether or not the other parent is giving you all of the information about where the child will be and allowing you contact with the child. 

Unless your custody order specifically says a parent cannot leave the state with the child, the other parent may be able to do so during his/her time with the child.  If you are in the middle of a custody case, often times, the judge will order that neither parent remove the child from the state (jurisdiction) while the case is pending.

Under Oklahoma law, it can be illegal for anyone, including parents, to hide (conceal) a child under the age of 16 from anyone who has custodial rights over a child or to take the child out of state. Taking the child must be done intentionally to cause harm or distress (maliciously), using force (forcibly), or based on a lie or deception (fraudulently).1 This crime is called “child stealing,” and it is separate from the crimes of kidnapping or kidnapping for the purpose of extortion.

1 21 O.S. § 891; see Wilkins v. State, 985 P.2d 184 (Ct of Crim App 1999)