Understanding and avoiding custodial interference

Custody battles can be highly contentious and volatile. Under these circumstances, parents can make some unwise decisions and engage in inadvisable behavior in an effort to hurt the other parent.

One particularly reckless decision parents might make in an effort to hurt the other parent is interfering with custody, as custodial interference can hurt the child as much or more than it hurts anyone else. In this post, we will examine what custodial interference can look like and why it is crucial to avoid it.

What is custodial interference?

Broadly speaking, custodial interference is the taking or retaining of a child without permission. This can include:

  • Refusing to return the child to the other parent in accordance with a custody order
  • Taking the child without the permission of the courts or the parent
  • Coercing or threatening a child into leaving a custodial parent
  • Leaving the state or country with a child without the permission of the courts and/or the other parent

However, there are defenses to custodial interference, including the removal of a child to protect him or her from family violence and conditions beyond a parent’s control that prohibited timely return of a child.

Why is custodial interference so serious?

Interfering with custody robs the other parent of the time and relationship he or she deserves with a child. More seriously, it puts the child in danger. A child can be scared, confused and potentially traumatized when someone takes them away or does not allow them to return to their parent.

Because of the serious nature of custodial interference, it is a felony in the state of Texas. A person convicted of the offense faces serious penalties, including massive fines as well as jail time.

Know your rights as a parent

To avoid custodial interference allegations, be sure you understand your parental rights and the custody order in place. If you have questions or concerns, talk to an attorney about possible modifications. It is not wise to resolve custody issues outside the legal process.

If you are concerned that the other parent of your child may interfere with custody, then again, it can be wise to talk to an attorney who can advise you on legal options.


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