How does Michigan law deal with the issue of parental kidnapping?

Understanding Parental Kidnapping in Michigan Law

Parental kidnapping, also referred to as parental abduction, is a serious issue that occurs when a parent takes a child without the legal right to do so, or retains a child beyond an agreed-upon time. In Michigan, this matter is taken seriously and is governed by both state and federal laws designed to protect the welfare of children.

Michigan Custodial Interference Laws

In Michigan, parental kidnapping is addressed under the custodial interference laws outlined in the Michigan Penal Code (MCL 750.350a). The law stipulates that it is illegal for a parent to take their child with the intent to withhold or conceal them from the other parent or legal guardian who has custody rights. A violation of this law can result in felony charges, with potential penalties including imprisonment and fines.

Child Custody and Parenting Time Violations

When a custody order is in place, removing a child from their lawful custodian without permission violates that order and can lead to additional civil and criminal consequences. Michigan courts may hold the offending parent in contempt, modify existing custody arrangements, and impose fines or jail time. These measures underscore the gravity with which Michigan treats violations of custody and parenting time orders.

The Role of The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

The UCCJEA, which has been adopted by Michigan, provides guidelines for jurisdictional disputes among states in custody cases. This act facilitates cooperation among states to ensure that custody orders are recognized and enforced across state lines. It also aids in the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed or retained.

Federal Legislation: The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)

In addition to state laws, the PKPA plays a crucial role in addressing interstate parental kidnapping issues. This federal law mandates that states must honor and enforce valid child custody determinations made by other states. It also provides mechanisms for the return of children who have been abducted across state lines.

Historical References and Notable Cases

One significant case highlighting the implications of parental kidnapping under Michigan law involved Tsimhoni v. Tsimhoni, where an international dispute occurred over the custody of three children. This case drew attention to the complexities of jurisdiction and enforcement in parental abduction scenarios.


Parental kidnapping is treated with utmost seriousness under Michigan law. The state's statutes are designed to protect children's best interests while providing clear legal recourse for left-behind parents. Through a combination of state laws like MCL 750.350a, the UCCJEA, and federal legislation like the PKPA, Michigan ensures that children's safety and well-being are paramount when addressing cases of custodial interference.