What happens when a parent attempts to disrupt the custody rights of another parent? Under California Penal Code 278.5, parents have rights when this malicious and extremely stressful time occurs in their lives. Imagine having your child ripped away by the other parent so that you cannot even associate with them for a period of time. This is why California has put these measures in place, to protect parent’s rights and make it a crime when something known as Custodial Interference takes place.

The truth is, every parent has a right to see their child when there is a custody order in place. Any other way and a parent may be charged with parental abduction for keeping a child away from the other parent at any cost. No matter what the situation, custodial interference in always a crime and charged accordingly. You may have been involved in your own case or heard of parents or grandparents who have been charged with this crime on the news or other outlets.

Let’s say that you are going through an ugly divorce and only get to see your children every other weekend. When your weekend ends, you decide not to answer your ex-spouse’s phone calls and keep your children a few days longer than the court order agrees to. This is custodial interference. Another example is if a parent is incarcerated for a short period of time and the grandparent watches the child while the parent is away. When the parent is released, the grandparent will not allow the child and parent to reunite. The same can be said for parents who leave the state with their children when they are not supposed to, or on the other parent’s designated time.

The Many Situations

The truth is, there are so many ways in which custodial interference can occur, so many that we can’t cover them all here. But here are some of the most common:

  • Refusing to release the child to the other parent for a scheduled visit
  • Limiting when and how often the child can talk to the other parent on the telephone
  • Keeping the child past the allotted amount of time you are permitted to spend with them and failing to return them
  • Enticing or bribing the child away from the other parent
  • Visiting the child repeatedly during the other parent’s scheduled custody

So is every situation considered custodial interference? The simple answer is: “No.” Consider a situation where the child is put in immediate danger of the other parent, such as when they threaten to leave the country with your child or are using drugs in their presence. You are also not breaking the law if events outside of your control are preventing timely transfer, and when there are previous agreements that disrupt the custody arrangements.

In situations where custodial interference takes place, a parent can report it to the court. The court may make new and specific orders, force a parent to make up the visitation time, or attend family therapy to get to the bottom of the issues. A parent may even be forced to have supervised visits or receive fines and fees if the situation was severe enough. Give us a call today if you have been charged with custodial interference so we can discuss your case in-depth. We are always here for you.