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Legal Information: Pennsylvania

Parental Kidnapping

Laws current as of June 24, 2024

What can I do if the other parent takes or threatens to take my child out of Pennsylvania without my permission?

If you fear that your child would experience or be threatened with mistreatment or abuse if removed from the state, you may be able to file an emergency petition for physical custody of the child.1 For more information, see Can I get emergency custody?

If you already have a custody order but fear that the child is likely to be immediately (imminently) removed from the state by the other parent in violation of that order, you could file for enforcement of the custody order and ask the judge to issue a warrant for you to take physical custody of the child. This is also an option if you think your child is likely to suffer immediate serious physical harm.2

If you believe the other parent has already violated the custody order, you could also file a petition for contempt.  By filing for contempt, you are asking the judge to:

  • rule that the other parent violated the order;
  • force the other parent to follow (comply with) the order;
  • possibly change the order based on the violation; or
  • punish the other parent with any of the following:
    • jail for up to six months;
    • a fine of up to $500;
    • probation for up to six months;
    • suspension of a driver’s license; or
    • an order requiring the other parent to pay your court costs and counsel fees.3

1 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5424(a)
2 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5451(a)-(b)
3 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5323(g)