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What to do about custodial interference

If Texas divorced parents interfere with the access of their former spouse to their child in a way that violates their custody agreement, this is known as custodial interference. It is illegal and may be punishable by jail time.

One example of custodial interference might be a parent picking up a child from school when it is not that parent's day to do so. Another might be keeping the child for longer than the agreement states. Parents may report custodial interference to both the family court and to law enforcement. However, it is not required that they do so, and they might be able to resolve such an incident on their own. In other cases, going to court may be necessary, and there might even be a change in the custody agreement. For example, the parent who committed custodial interference might only be allowed supervised visitation after such an incident.

There are a few exceptions to the prohibition on custodial interference. The legal system recognizes that sometimes there might be extenuating circumstances, such as a storm, that prevent a parent from returning a child on time. It is also not considered custodial interference if one parent keeps the child from the other parent for that child's protection. Finally, parents may agree to make an exception to the custody agreement in certain cases.

A parent who is concerned about the possibility of a child abduction in a divorce might want to speak to an attorney about how to protect against this. An international abduction may be a particular danger because a court in another country might disagree about which country has jurisdiction or with which parent the child should live. However, there are also steps a parent can take to protect against an international abduction including putting restrictions on the other parent's ability to travel with the child.

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