Custody Interference: Can Your Ex Face Criminal Charges?
Your child’s other parent refuses to allow your child to spend time with you. You recognize this as a red flag of parental alienation, but what can you do — and what consequences could your ex face for custody interference? Here is a look custody situations that may warrant criminal charges against alienator parents.
Your children’s other parent failing to produce your children for parenting time as stated in your order from family court could earn them the wrath of the family court judge and subject them to sanctions such as fines and, in extreme cases, loss of custody.
However, the act of purposefully keeping your children away from you may also subject the other parent to arrest and criminal charges for interfering with custody. According to New Jersey statute, if your child is “taken, detained, enticed or concealed” from you by the other parent for more than 24 hours, the penalty is incarceration and payment of your attorney’s fees as well as other expenses and costs in recovering the child.
This is a serious offense; violating the statute is considered a third-degree crime. If the other parent moves your child outside of the United States in an effort to frustrate parenting time or custody, then they can be committing a crime in the second degree. Further, taking a child outside of the US for the purpose of concealing the child or stopping parenting time could even subject the other parent to federal charges for international abduction of your child. Yes, it is indeed possible to kidnap your own child, under the laws of the State of New Jersey and US laws, as well.
Defenses to Custody or Parenting Time Interference
There are some situations where preventing parenting time or withholding a child is warranted. For example, if you truly believe that your child would be in imminent danger or subject to serious harm if permitted to go with their other parent that may be a defense. However, if this is the case, be sure that you contact the police or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formally, DYFS) within 24 hours of your concealing the child to advise them of the child’s whereabouts. Simply taking and concealing your child for their safety is not enough to protect yourself from possible criminal charges.
Also, of you are in imminent physical danger from your child’s other parent and you need to flee from a violent or dangerous situation with your child, this can also be a defense to removing your child or prohibiting from seeing your ex. Again, as soon as possible and when you are safe, contact the proper authorities to advise them of the situation and to let them know where your child is. Of course, if you are in danger or need assistance, call 911. You may also want to consider obtaining a restraining order against your ex to protect you from future abuse.
Lastly, if you reasonably belive that you had the consent of your ex to leave the state or the country during their planned parenting time, or if you reasonably feel that you obtain the permission from an authorized agency in New Jersey to leave, this may also be a defense to an custody or parenting time interference charge against you. It is critical that if you have obtained permission to leave, either from your child’s other parent or an appropriate agency, you must get that permission in writing.
For Parents At Risk: Keeping Custody Matters in Perspective
Are you the parent at risk for overstepping your custody order? Remember: keeping your child away from their other parent simply because of bitter feelings or animosity towards your ex, or because you are hurt that your relationship ended is harmful to your entire family, especially to your children. Accepting that they should have a healthy, strong and positive relationship with their other parent is your first step to providing them with a stable and secure childhood where each of you is an integral part of their lives. They will thank you for it.
If you have any further questions about child custody or any other area of family law, please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our qualified and compassionate family law attorneys. Secure your future. Call us today: 888-888-0919.
Parental Kidnapping & Criminal Interference With New Jersey Child Custody Or Parenting Time