Chapter 25 of the Texas Penal Code provides criminal sanctions against a person who takes or retains a child less than 18 years of age when that person knows that the taking or retaining of the child violates the express terms of a Final Order or Temporary Order concerning the child’s custody. It is a state jail felony to knowingly take or retain a child in a manner that violates a court’s possession order. This provision of the Texas Penal Code makes it unlawful for a parent or other person to take the child or retain the child from a parent or conservator who has a right to child possession, when the person knows doing so violates an existing court order.
Habeas Corpus is a legal procedure whereby a court commands someone who is alleged to be in wrongful possession of a child to bring the child before the court. Once the child is before the court, the court will determine which adult should have possession of the child. If a nonparent has possession of a child, then Habeas Corpus can be used to compel return of the child to the parent if no Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) has been filed and a court order does not govern possession of the child.
If a court order governing possession of the child is in place, then Habeas Corpus can be used to compel return of the child to the parent who is entitled to possession under the order. Attorney’s fees and court costs may be awarded to a party who successfully brings a Habeas Corpus action.
The Texas Family Code provides that anyone who takes or retains a child or conceals a child’s whereabouts — and by so doing interferes with another’s right to possession, access, custody, or visitation — may be liable to the person whose rights to the child are violated. In addition to the person who actually takes, retains, or conceals a child, anyone who aids or assists another in interfering with the rightful child possession, access, custody, or visitation may also be found liable. A person who successfully brings a suit for interfering with possessory interest in a child may recover: