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What you should know about child custody interference

Two of the biggest questions that often arise in child custody cases are usually who will get custody and who has visitation rights. Once those questions are answered, you may hope that things will go smoother, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Instead, sometimes, one parent will attempt to interfere in the custody arrangements. This is known as "custodial interference."

There are several ways that custodial interference can occur. As an example, one parent may attempt to limit the amount of telephone time a child can have with the other parent. The parent may also fail to return or pick up the child on a timely basis or even attempt to visit with the child during the periods of time that the other parent is suppose to have custody.

Although certain acts of custodial interference can actually be a crime, there are other incidents where the interference would not necessarily be an intentional act of breaking the law. As an example, a father could return his son late because the weather was not safe enough for him to be out on the roads or a mother could have to disrupt the custody arrangements because she suddenly discovers that she has to go out of town for work.

While it is always best to try to work out the situation with the other parent before taking legal action, it is not inappropriate to report the other parent's actions to the court or even law enforcement if it seems necessary. For example – if a mother feels threatened when the father comes to pick up his child, she could ask the court to allow the transfers to be at a neutral location and away from the home.

Since each child custody case is different, parents may benefit from learning about their legal rights and how to protect them.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is Custodial Interference?" Aditi Mukherji, Feb. 19, 2015

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