For many divorced or separated parents in Berks County, custodial interference may represent their greatest fear as their former partner attempts to drive a wedge between parent and child. When a child is kept from one of their parents due to a dispute between the adults and absent a situation of abuse or neglect, it can have serious consequences for the child’s physical and psychological well-being. This is one reason why a systematic, ongoing attempt to undermine a parent’s custodial relationship with their child can rise to the level of a criminal offense in some cases.
The term custodial interference refers to an attempt to cut off the parent-child relationship with the other parent by taking the child during the other parent’s custody time, refusing to return the child to the other parent, inciting the child to demand a change in the custody schedule or even disappearing with the child. It usually comes as part of an ongoing custody dispute and does not refer to the normal scheduling difficulties and conflicts that can accompany co-parenting. Instead, this is an attempt to separate the child from the other parent.
When a parent refuses to abide by a court-ordered custody agreement, this can even be criminal behavior. In order to take action against custodial interference, having an official child custody order is one of the most important steps a parent can take to protect themselves as well as their children.
For parents faced with attempts to cut off their time with their children, action can be taken. A family law attorney may go to court to establish a child custody order if none exists or to ensure that the existing order is implemented or changed. A lawyer might also seek to modify the custody agreement in order to protect the parent-child relationship and the best interests of the children.