The end of a relationship between two adults does not mean that the relationships end between those adults and their children. Instead, the adults are expected and encouraged to continue their relationships with their children while working out a schedule in which each parent has proper time with the children.
However, in reality, splitting spouses often have acrimonious relationships, and that affects how they interact with their shared children. Sometimes, a parent may not bring his or her child back to the other parent until after the time that was set in court. When this happens, the parent keeping the child may be guilty of interference with child custody.
Interference with Child Custody
Under Section 25.03 of the Texas Penal Code, interference with child custody can occur in four different ways:
With a child under 18 years of age, by taking the child or holding on to the child for a time that is longer than allowed. This is only applicable when the custody of the child has been defined by a court order.
With a child under 18 years of age, by taking the child to another location, e.g. a different city, county, or state. This is only applicable when custody of the child is still being determined by a court and the offender sought to prevent the court from issuing an order with respect to that child’s custody.
With a child under 18 years of age, by removing the child from the United States without permission. This is applicable only when one person has a legal custody of the child and the offending party sought to deprive that person of that child.
With a child under 18 years of age, by talking into or compelling a child into leaving their court-awarded custodial parent or guardian. This is applicable when a court awarded a parent or guardian custody while the other parent convinces the child to leave the court-awarded parent or guardian.
Charged with Interference
If you have been charged with interference with child custody, you need a strong advocate on your side. These are serious charges and can result in a criminal record and possible jail time, and they may also affect your future ability to maintain a strong bond with your children.
Defending Against a Charge of Interference with Custody
Formulating a defense to a charge of interference with child custody will depend on the circumstances. The most common defense, however, is a defense of emergency. If the defendant had an emergent reason to keep his or her child longer or to take the child somewhere else, then that is a valid defense. Depending on the circumstances, the defendant may have had the requirement to contact or attempt to contact the other parent. In defense, the defendant will demonstrate the emergency and provide phone records or the like that the defendant attempted to contact the other parent.
Accused of interference with child custody? Contact the criminal defense firm of Christopher Abel, a Dallas-area criminal defense attorney.
(image courtesy of Jonathan Weiss)