Custody Interference (Texas)
Custody interference is when one parent refuses to release their child to the other parent for their scheduled visitation time. Unfortunately it happens all too often (and has been exacerbated by the Corona pandemic) and is one of the many games played by “parents” post divorce/breakup. A cartoon I made discusses this in more detail:
A study was performed in 2018 of the number of arrests and convictions from these violations show how the state views these violations.
Here is the standard language from a divorce decree:
Although it clearly states that the Peace Officer can enforce the custody agreement, the standard answer is “its a civil matter”. Of course, when you slowly repeat the words to the LEO that it is a violation of PENAL CODE 25.03 and cite the section:
The first thing to remember is that the idea of fairness, common sense, etc. is not part of any of this. The state views you as a paycheck, nothing more. Once you understand that, everything else becomes slightly easier to handle.
- REMAIN CALM – which is impossible, but for the sake of your children, you MUST remain calm
- Download this 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(s) refuse 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.
- Video record/time stamp
- Bring a witness
- Any other evidence
- Complete the “Visitation Journal” ( see if the LEO or other people will sign and date it)
- Send notice (preferably certified or other trackable way) to the other parent that they did not honor the court order
- Once this has happened with an amount of regularity (think about it from the judges point of view over 1-3 missed visits), follow the remaining steps in the enforcement kit
Remember, the other parent, the state, the judge, etc. want to find a way to perpetuate this nonsense. Be a Pissed Off Parent and beat them at their own game for the good of your children. But understand that it is going to take a lot of time. This article discusses it from another perspective. This facebook group (will need to become a member) has a growing number of youtube videos to help understand the whys and how to work through it.
Dallas County statement that they will no longer come out for violations:
Articles/videos on violations of 25.03:
Cops getting it wrong!
and across the pond: