Custodial Interference - What Is It and What Are the Legal Consequences?

Custodial interference happens when the non-custodial parent tries to disrupt the standard custody rights of the custodial parent to such a degree that causes problems. Depending on the severity of the disruptions, the disruptive parent may face a number of legal consequences.

Custodial Interference Explained

The person that has custody of a child has the right to accomplish many tasks, has certain responsibilities and has the power to engage in various activities. These rights are given by the law of the state to the person with primary or sole custody. The other parent usually has visitation rights or a minor form of custody of the child that is less than the primary parent. Any interference in these rights that removes the child or causes problems with a parental plan can lead to contempt of court or other legal penalties. The custodial parent can contact law enforcement for illegal activities or petition the court when the noncustodial parent is in violation of these rights.

Types of Custodial Interference

It is possible to commit custodial interference that is legal or against the rights of the custodial parent. Refusing to release the youth back after a visit is one way to cause interference. Limiting contact with the other parent through internet usage or phone contact is another way. The parent can also fail to return the child after a certain time, on the wrong day or let the young person miss school and violate these rights. Any enticing the child away from the custodial parent or visiting when not during visiting time or custody days is out of bounds.

Valid Custodial Interference

There are many actions a person can take that interferes with custody but where the parent is within his or her legal rights. This can involve protecting the child from the other parent, using violence to stop violence, inclement weather and a previously held agreement which could disrupt the standard custody arrangements. Some situations are outside the control of the parent such as when a special event lasts longer, when the weather includes snow or ice and if the other parent is a danger to the child. These are valid interferences with custody that the law provides for and often cannot inhibit.

What the Parent Can Do

When invalid custodial interference occurs, the parent affected can contact the courts with a report of the matter, communicate the problem with law enforcement and seek other assistance depending on the situation. The person can petition the courts to alter the custody arrangements or change visitation rights if the interference is a constant or repeated problem. Additionally, law enforcement may need to arrest and detain the other party if he or she is violent or attempting to harm the mother or father and the child. Depending on the event, the parent can also contact a lawyer for a legal remedy.

Legal Consequences

It is important to seek a legal remedy when the other parent is causing interference with the custody of the child. This often leads to a lawyer petitioning the court and providing evidence of the interference. The judge may change the custody arrangements through joint or primary custody and restrict the parent that is interfering with this situation. Visitation rights may also require additional limitations when the ex-spouse is not returning the youth on the correct days or times repeatedly. It usually takes more than a single instance to use in the courtroom. If necessary, the custodial parent can even contact law enforcement for serious grievances.

The more common remedies involve a change to prevent future violations with visitation. Another can involve family therapy to determine the problem. Some parents use mediation to communicate the grievance and determine the best resolution together. Others may require a change of other times without the need to contact the courts. However, if these violations are severe, the custodial parent can seek supervised visits with the other parent, a transfer to a different and neutral location for visitation and even more restrictions. A loss of custody, fine, fees and make-up changes are all possible.

Legal Support for Custodial Interference

The parent affected by the custodial interference should contact a family law lawyer to determine the best course of action based on the specific circumstances. The lawyer may explain options such as mediation or to petition the court for the more serious offenses. Protecting the rights of the custodial parent and seeking the best option is the job of the lawyer.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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