What is Custodial Interference?

Custodial interference often occurs between split parents. This interference is when one parent keeps a child away from their other parent, missing a scheduled visitation. This is a violation of the other parent’s court granted right to physical custody in that situation. This often takes the form of a non-custodial parent failing to return the child to the custodial parent after a scheduled visitation. The custodial parent is the guardian that the child primarily lives with and the courts have determined that this arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Not only is this custodial interference a violation of the court’s orders, but in certain situations, it may qualify as abduction or kidnapping.

Is Custodial Interference a Crime?

When one parent partakes in custodial interference, they are committing a crime and can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Custodial interference is punishable by jail time, however, penalties and consequences differ by the situation. It is important to know that custodial interference might escalate to a parental kidnapping charge depending upon the specifics. The courts will make custody arrangements that are for the child’s best interests, and any deviation from that plan without prior approval or modification from the court could harm the child’s future.

Are There Other Forms of Custodial Interference?

It is important to note, custodial interference includes more than just refusing to let the other parent see their child. Custodial interference also includes:

  • Limiting the child’s phone contact with the other parent or preventing the child from talking to the other parent on the phone at all
  • Influencing the child against the other parent (this may also be parental/child alienation)
  • Visiting the child when it is not your turn to have custody

If a parent feels they are protecting their child from danger by keeping the child away from the other parent, they may not be prosecuted depending on the facts of that case. Another circumstance in which a parent may not be violating the law is when there are bad weather conditions rendering it irresponsible to attempt to drop the child off with the other parent. Lastly, going on vacation with the child and missing scheduled visitation is NOT a violation as long as both parents communicate agreements beforehand.

What to do if I am Experiencing Custodial Interference?

If you are experiencing custodial interference, you are entitled to report the situation to the court and law enforcement. The court may suggest new orders for visitation, make-up visitation time, or family mediation and therapy. Our experienced lawyers at Moskowitz Law Firm have decades of experience with family matters and resolving conflict amongst families. Contact us today for help if you or a loved one is experiencing custodial interference.

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