Handling Custodial Interference

Custodial interference is a legal term. It is used to describe what happens when a parent or guardian attempts to disrupt or violate the custody rights of a parent to the point where it causes problems. In cases where these disruptions are severe, such as kidnapping, there can be serious legal consequences.

Many times, when custodial interference is brought up, there will not be any arrests made, as long as it is not severe. Problems can sometimes be worked out between the parents. Other times, it might have to go to court. When you file a police report or call the police and claim custodial interference, though, the police are required to investigate.

Understanding Custodial Interference

When a person has custody of a child, they have certain responsibilities and can engage in a range of activities on behalf of and with the child. These rights are typically given to someone with primary custody of the child. The other parent will typically have visitation rights or a minor form of custody. If there is any interference with the rights of the parents, it could lead to contempt of court in a civil matter. This is called custodial interference when it becomes a criminal matter. If a parent violates the parental plan, the other parent can contact law enforcement.

Many types of custodial interference can occur against the rights of the custodial parent. For example, a noncustodial parent with visitation rights might refuse to let the child go back to the custodial parent after a visit. They might limit the amount of contact that the child has with the other parent. Another type of custodial interference might be letting the child skip school or neglecting to return them at a certain time or on the right day.

Anything that would potentially entice the child away from the custodial parent could be considered custodial interference. If the noncustodial parent visits at the wrong times that are not allotted to them or if they take the child on days that they don’t have custody, it could also be a violation. There have been many instances of custodial interference where one parent simply takes the child and tries to flee, or actually does flee. These are serious cases that should be reported to and handled by law enforcement.

Of course, there are also some valid types of custodial interference, as noted below.

Valid Reasons for Custodial Interference

In some cases, a person might interfere with the custodial rights, but they may still be within their own legal right to do so. For example, it might be necessary to protect the child from the other parent. In cases where a parent is violent, the best thing to do is to not have the child with that parent any longer. Cases like these should be reported to the authorities, of course, to ensure there is a record of why the child is being withheld from the other parent. Otherwise, the parent trying to protect their child could end up in trouble.

Certain situations will sometimes be out of the control of the parent, such as going to a special event that lasts longer than it was supposed to, car problems, or inclement weather that could present a danger to the child if they were brought home at that time. How many times have parents gone to an event with their child only to realize that the show or game lasted longer than was anticipated? How often has traffic slowed them down? These are common problems that can affect everyone. The law provides room for these types of interferences.

Parents might be worried about being perceived as causing custodial interference when an event runs long, or other issues prevent them from getting the child back on time. In those cases, they will want to keep in contact with the other parent to let them know what the problem is about. Communication can be a good way to avoid these issues in many cases. Most of the time, it’s not a problem. It tends to become an issue only when there is blatant and severe interference.

However, even those small instances of custodial interference of being late dropping off the child can become a problem when they are habitual. Those “minor problems” can negatively affect the life of the other parent. They have to rearrange their schedule and change their plans to accommodate the parent that is not holding up to their end of the agreement. When they have to do it all the time, it’s natural that they become upset.

What Can You Do About Custodial Interference?

Those who believe they are the victims of custodial interference will want to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you with your case and get the child back from the parent that is withholding them. You have legal rights, and you need to exercise them for the good of yourself and your children.

In some cases, the attorney might petition the court and provide evidence of the interference. Depending on the circumstances, the judge might change the custody arrangements. If the former partner is not abiding by their visitation or custodial rights, the judge might put more limitations on them. Typically, it will take more than one instance to go to court over these issues. However, parents who are concerned can and should get in touch with law enforcement for serious issues.

If you are a parent that believes you have a good reason for withholding the child from the other parent for one reason or another, you should also get in touch with an attorney. This is a serious crime and could have major legal repercussions for you. If there is truly a good reason that the other parent should not see the child, talk about this with a family attorney. They can advise you on how to proceed and to do what’s best for your kids.

Resource: Provided and What Is Custodial Interference