Can I be accused of kidnapping if my grandson leaves without saying goodbye to his mother?

Dear Mr. Premack: My grandson has been residing with me for the last six months. He has signed up for the Job Corps and we are awaiting his placement. Once he is placed, he states he does not want to say goodbye to his mother. If he leaves without letting her know where he goes, could I be accused of kidnapping? – WJO

According to the Job Corps, it is the “nation’s largest career technical and education program for young people” who are ages 16 to 24. It is a voluntary program which helps its participants earn a high school diploma (or GED or college credit), offers technical training, and provides free room, board and basic medical care.

If your grandson is 16 or 17, then his mother or father must legally give consent for his enrollment, or you may give consent if you are his court appointed legal guardian or conservator, or he must have a court-ordered emancipation (decree that he is an adult). If any of those factors exists, you cannot be accused of any legal wrongdoing when he leaves for the Job Corps center. If none of those factors exist, the Job Corps should reject his application for enrollment, in which case he won’t be leaving and you cannot be accused of any wrongdoing.

If your grandson is 18 to 24, he is legally an adult and may make his own decisions regarding his location, education and future. He is fully within his rights to leave for the Job Corps without bidding farewell to his mother, and you cannot be accused of any wrongdoing.

Top that off with the fact that under the Texas Penal Code, kidnapping requires an abduction, coupled with the use (or threat) of force, against a non-relative, with intent to take control of the victim. His voluntary choice to join the Job Corps does not expose you to charges of kidnapping.

Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a Five Star Wealth Manager (Texas Monthly Magazine 2009-2013) practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.

Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, April 9, 2010

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