What is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act in Relation to North Carolina Law?

Understanding the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

When a family is divided by custody issues, the situation can become complex and emotionally charged, particularly when one parent takes a child across state lines without the consent of the other parent or a court order. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) is a federal law enacted in 1980 to address such scenarios by providing a legal framework to resolve interstate custody disputes. This act has been adopted by all 50 states, including North Carolina, ensuring that child custody determinations are respected and enforced across state boundaries.

The Scope of PKPA

The PKPA applies to any child custody determination made by a court of a state that exercises jurisdiction in conformity with the statute. It mandates that once a state's court has made a custody determination, that decision is then binding in other states, provided that the original court had proper jurisdiction and that the parties involved were given adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard.

PKPA and North Carolina Law

In North Carolina, the PKPA complements state laws around custody and child abduction. Under North Carolina General Statute ยง 14-320.1, parental kidnapping is considered a felony when a parent unlawfully removes a child under the age of 16 from the state with the intent to violate a custody order. This state statute works in tandem with the PKPA to ensure that custodial interference is addressed both at the state and federal levels.

Historical Context and Examples

The necessity for the PKPA became evident in cases like Kulko v. Superior Court of California, where jurisdictional issues regarding child custody emerged after parents lived in different states. The PKPA provided much-needed clarity on which state's orders would be recognized. An example within North Carolina's jurisdiction might include a case where one parent takes a child from Charlotte to another state without complying with existing custody arrangements. In such instances, PKPA ensures that North Carolina's custody determination will have legal standing elsewhere, facilitating the child's return.


The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act plays an essential role in protecting children and upholding custody arrangements across state lines. In concert with North Carolina law, it forms a robust legal framework to prevent and address instances of parental kidnapping. As families continue to be mobile and interstate custody issues persist, understanding the provisions and applications of the PKPA remains crucial for legal professionals and affected parties alike.