When courts command families to adhere to child custody arrangements, officials usually allow some leeway for minor discrepancies. For instance, most parents probably won't lose custody rights for things like failing to deliver a child to an agreed exchange on time if it only happens once or twice. Those who intentionally violate the terms of a judgment or order, however, can be prosecuted as a result.
According to the State Penal Code's chapter on Offenses Against the Family, people who take or refuse to release minors under the age of 18 in accordance with custody orders may be committing felonies. This includes travel outside the jurisdiction where the support order was made or beyond national borders; while state authority doesn't always extend that far, Texan courts retain the right to enact punishments and prosecute parents.
Parents who take children in violation of existing agreements or in the midst of ongoing filings may be able to escape conviction by proving their actions served the children's best interests. Some valid reasons for violation include wanting to save a minor from domestic abuse by cutting off contact with the abuser or having a prior entitlement to custody. The state code also notes that parents who return children to an appropriate court district within three days of committing an offense may use this as a defense against prosecution.
Child custody disputes can be complex. Families have to get used to their new time-sharing arrangements, and in some cases, sour relationships between parents might make it harder to communicate and cooperate effectively. Guardians whose visitation rights were violated or whose ex-partners routinely interfere with proper custody arrangements may find it helpful to learn about potential legal remedies.