What Is Custodial Interference, And What Are Its Legal Consequences

After a separation, custody rights are established. These rights are enforced by law and specify where the child lives and how much time is spent with each parent. Custodial interference is when the parent not granted custody tries to interfere with these rights. As these rights are enforced by law, the parent who disrupts them may face serious legal consequences.

This article will explain what custody interference is. We will also discuss the various types of disruptions and their legal implications.

What does Custodial Interference mean?

To answer the question, “What is custody interference?” first must understand what custodial right means. Parents can go to court after a divorce or separation and ask for a custody agreement. All agreements are made to protect the child, and their well-being is at the heart of all court decisions.

The custodial parents are the ones who have primary or sole legal custody. Each case is different, but typically, one parent has the sole or primary legal responsibility for the child. This guardian has more parental responsibility, as the child lives with them and can do various things without approval. Comparatively, the other parent is given partial custody of their child and has specific visitation rights. In cases of abuse, the parent may not have any right to see their child.

It is essential to follow the court’s decision. Custodial interference is when either parent intentionally interferes with their child’s legal rights.

Types Of Custodial Interference

Custodial interference can take many forms, and any breach of the custody agreement, whether by the child’s custodian or someone else, counts as an infringement of the law. Parents often resort to desperate means to get their children back during a heated custody battle. Examples of interference in custody include:

Inability to return an intended visitation at the planned time.

Arriving at an unplanned appointment or time

Stopping the child from contacting their other parent

Take a child from abroad or the home of another parent without their consent

Speaking badly about the other parent to alienate the child is not a good idea.

Denying visitation rights to the other parent

Visitation during the scheduled time of the other parent without permission

These situations could put the child at risk and negatively impact their mental or emotional well-being. It is not enough for a child to be happy with an extended visitation period. Both parents must follow the court order and face legal consequences if they do not. Any deviation from an agreement could be construed as interference in the custody of a child.

In some cases, however, interference in custody is legal. When a parent deliberately violates the law, they do so if it’s in the best interest of their child. For example, to prevent physical harm or other dangers. The law does not apply if the child requests to stop seeing the parent without the other’s consent. Defense attorneys working on custodial interference cases are familiar with the concept of imminent harm.

How to file a charge of Custodial Interference

It is up to the parent affected by custodial interference to make a complaint. You can do this by contacting the police and speaking with an officer that deals with family or child abduction cases. In cases of violence or kidnappings, the police may arrest a parent for less severe cases, such as when a parent returns the child to court late every time after a visitation.

A parent could be asked to submit a petition to enforce the custody agreement. The courts will then reiterate the rights that were agreed upon and tell both parties to adhere to the guidelines. There are legal consequences if either parent refuses to obey the order and continues to ignore the rights. After examining each case, courts can also change the rights that are already in place based on the evidence presented.

Legal Consequences Of Custodial Interference

A parent’s interference in the custody of their child is a crime. The rights to custody of children are there for a reason. Any violation is punishable both by civil and criminal penalties. Most states punish it with jail time. The laws in each state and the particulars of the case will have a significant impact on the charges that are given.

In most states, it is treated as a misdemeanor. A district attorney will ask the child to return voluntarily and in good faith. If you refuse, there will be consequences. In Connecticut, for example, refusing to return a minor to their lawful guardian can result in up to a year’s imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. If the child is transported outside the state, it becomes a crime. The case could escalate into parental kidnapping, and the parent would be charged with federal charges.


When there is a violation of the custody rights given by the court, it is called custodial intervention. Some examples include not returning a child after visitation or denying the right of the other parents to see the child. In all states, violating lawful custody is punishable by prison.

A family lawyer can provide legal advice to anyone affected by custodial interference. It may be better for an attorney to recommend mediation as a first step to rectifying the situation. You can still petition the court for serious crimes to protect the legal custodian’s rights.

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