When parents divorce, they usually must maintain contact with the ex-spouse, as they often share custody of their children. While some parents handle the situation amicably, some continue to carry animosity toward each other. They may argue over every little thing, including custody issues. In serious cases, these issues can lead to what is called custodial interference.
Custodial interference is a crime that applies to children under the age of 16. It can be found under New York State Penal Law Articles 135.45 and 135.50.
Custodial interference can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity. When a parent holds onto the child for an extended period of time without letting the other parent regain custody of the child, this is a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. When a parent takes a child out of state or takes custody of the child in a way that endangers his or her life, then that parent can be charged with custodial interference in the first degree, which is a Class E felony. This is the most minor type of felony and is punishable by two to five years in prison.
Types of Custodial Interference
As a parent, it is important that you understand what custodial interference, or parental interference, is and what you can do about it. While kidnapping a child would be a form of custodial interference, there are other ways in which it can occur. For example, holding onto the child for an extended period of time and not releasing them to the other parent on time could be a form of custodial interference. Other situations include visiting with the child when the other parent has custody or enticing the child away from the other parent.
Custodial interference does not only apply to physical custody. For example, keeping the child from communicating with the other parent is another form of interference. A parent who prohibits a child from calling, emailing, or texting the other parent is interfering and this is considered a crime.
However, some forms of custodial interference are not criminal. For example, a parent may interfere with custody to protect the child. An example of this is neglect or abuse from the other parent. Sometimes events that happen outside of the parent’s control can cause custodial interference. For example, a car accident or bad weather may cause delays. Sometimes custody schedules have to be changed because of trips, family gatherings or other events. As long as the other parent is notified and is in agreement, this would not be considered custodial interference.
Contact a Brooklyn Child Custody Attorney Today
Custodial interference should be avoided, as it is often looked at as a form of kidnapping. All instances should be reported to the court, who will offer remedies such as new visitation orders, mediation, restrictions, supervised visits, loss of custody and fines.
If you and the other parent are having disagreements over child custody, seek legal help first. Brooklyn family law attorney Theodore Alatsas ESQ can help you understand your rights to child custody and determine if you should press charges. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office at (718) 233-2903.