How does Washington law deal with the concealment of children?

Understanding Washington's Legal Framework on Child Concealment

In Washington State, the concealment of children is a serious legal matter that can have significant implications for all parties involved. Washington law recognizes the concealment of a child as an act where one parent, or another individual, hides a child from the other parent or legal guardian, thereby violating custody orders or parental rights.

Legal Provisions Against Child Concealment

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) contains several statutes that address the issue of child concealment. One of the primary statutes is RCW 9A.40.060, which defines custodial interference. A person is guilty of custodial interference in the first degree if they intentionally take, entice, retain, or conceal a child under the age of eighteen from a legal custodian with the intent to deny access to the child. This act is classified as a Class C felony.

In addition to criminal charges, civil remedies are also available. The non-concealing parent may file for a modification of the custody order or seek enforcement under RCW 26.09, which pertains to family law. Courts can impose various sanctions on the concealing party, including contempt orders and modifications to custody and visitation arrangements.

Historical Cases and Precedent

Historically, Washington courts have dealt with numerous cases involving child concealment. One notable example is the case of In re Marriage of Rideout, where the court found that concealing a child and denying visitation constituted willful disobedience of a court order and led to changes in custody.

Preventative Measures

To prevent child concealment, Washington law provides for preventative measures such as clear custody orders and visitation schedules. Courts often require detailed parenting plans under RCW 26.09.184 that specify each parent's rights and responsibilities to minimize misunderstandings that could lead to concealment.


Washington law takes a strong stance against the concealment of children by recognizing both criminal penalties and civil remedies to deter such behavior and protect children's welfare. Those found guilty of concealing a child may face felony charges as well as adverse civil judgments that affect their parental rights.