Home / Custody Interference
Custodial interference is a crime in most states and is defined as the intentional interference with the lawful custody of a child by a parent or other person acting in loco parentis (in place of a parent). The interference can be either a civil or criminal offense, depending on the severity of the actions taken.
Types of Custodial Interference
There are several types of custodial interference, including:
Denial of Visitation – this is the most common form of custodial interference, where one parent denies the other parent’s right to visit or spend time with their child.
Abduction – this occurs when a parent takes the child without the other parent’s consent or knowledge.
Concealment – this occurs when a parent hides the child from the other parent and refuses to disclose their location.
Interference with Communication – this occurs when one parent prevents the other parent from communicating with the child, either in person or through phone, email, or other means.
Refusal to Return the Child – this occurs when one parent fails to return the child at the agreed-upon time or place.
Divorce Decree Language
Common language from Divorce Decree referencing Police Officer’s duty in an event of Custody Interference (Check your decree language)
Consequences of Custodial Interference
Custodial interference can have serious consequences for both the child and the interfering parent. The child may suffer emotionally from being separated from one parent, and their relationship with that parent may be damaged. The interfering parent can face legal consequences, including fines, probation, or even imprisonment. Additionally, the court may modify custody arrangements or revoke visitation rights altogether.
Process For Handling Interference With Child Custody
REMAIN CALM – which is impossible, but for the sake of your children, you MUST remain calm
Download the visitation enforcement kit, which walks you through the hoops the court will have you jump through
Ensure that you are at the correct location/time for the pickup
- Knock on the door/ensure that the other parent is aware that you are there to pick up the child and either
- Obtain evidence that you were at the correct location, at the right date and time
- Purchase and obtain a receipt at a nearby store/restaurant
Contact the local police department and see if they will file an OFFENSE report (at the VERY least they will have to note that they were there and its on the record).
You can try to show them your paperwork, but know that 95% of the time, you will hear “civil matter”. Stay nice!
If the officer initially refuses to follow through on 25.03, you can kindly explain to them another item, the Code of Criminal Procedure section 14.01, which says:
Art. 14.01. OFFENSE WITHIN VIEW. (a) A peace officer or any other person, may, without a warrant, arrest an offender when the offense is committed in his presence or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as an offense against the public peace.
(b) A peace officer may arrest an offender without a warrant for any offense committed in his presence or within his view.
If the officer(s) STILL refuses to complete an offense report citing it as a “civil matter” (be sure to audio/video record) thank them for their time and inform them that you will be contacting both their Internal Affairs division to file a complaint as well as submitting a report to the US Department of Justice under their “Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law” via this link.
When completing the report, please understand that it was not due to not due to interference of child custody, but rather due to the fact the officer took no steps to preserve your court-supported possessory rights under state criminal and federal statutes. This youtube video goes into more detail.
Complete the “Visitation Journal” ( see if the LEO or other people will sign and date it)
- Video record/time stamp
- Bring a witness
- Any other evidence
Send notice (preferably certified or other trackable way) to the other parent (3 copies, one for the parent, 2nd for you, and 3rd to file with court) that they did not honor the court order.
Once this has happened with an amount of regularity (think about it from the judge’s point of view over 1-3 missed visits), follow the remaining steps in the enforcement kit and file with your county courthouse.
The best way to prevent custodial interference is to establish clear custody and visitation arrangements through a court order. The order should specify the rights and responsibilities of each parent, including visitation schedules, pick-up and drop-off times, and any restrictions on travel or communication. If one parent violates the order, the other parent can seek enforcement through the court system.