What Is Custodial Interference
In context of a divorce case (or following the conclusion of a divorce proceeding, custodial interference is defined as a parent violating the terms of a custody order or obstruction the parental rights of the other party. Interference with custody includes not only interfering with the rights of the custodial parent but with those associated with parenting time of the noncustodial party,Common Examples of Custodial Interference
There are some more commonplace examples of interference that occur with greater frequency in New Jersey. These include:
- Failure to return a child in a timely manner from a parenting time session
- Appearing at the other parent’s residence for unplanned parenting time or for some other reason
- Preventing a child from making contact with the other parent
- Taking a child without consent
- Speaking badly of the other parent in from of a child (with the objective of causing parental alienation)
- Denying a noncustodial parent his or her scheduled parenting time
- Visiting with a child during a noncustodial parent’s parenting time
Unfortunately, many victims of interference engage in what can be called “self help” in an effort to control or rectify this type of situation. The fact is that self help is not the proper course to take when a parent is facing interference by the other parent in a divorce or post-divorce setting.
A prime example of what a parent does when interference occurs in a divorce of post-divorce setting is retaliation. Further elucidating this example, if a noncustodial parent interferes with a custodial parent’s rights, a custodial parent blocks the noncustodial parent from having parenting time. This leaves the actual victim of parenting time in violation of an existing custody order.
The proper course to take is to seek judicial action in order to rectify interference. The proper response to interference is to file a motion with the court seeking redress. Such a motion might seek enforcement of an existing court order and the entry of sanctions against the parent who is engaged in interference.Consequences of Interference With Custodial Rights
The consequences of interference with custodial rights come in a number of different forms. These include:
- Modifying an existing custody order to some degree. For example, if a noncustodial parent interferes with a custodial parent’s custody rights, an alteration in the parenting time allotted to the noncustodial parent might occur. On the other hand, if a custodial parent is the party identified as engaging in interference, the amount of parenting time assigned to the noncustodial parent might be increased.
- A parent that engaged in custodial interference might face monetary sanctions. These can include the imposition of a monetary penalty of the parent that engaged in misconduct. It might also include an order from the court requiring the parent engaged in improper conduct to pay the attorney fees of the victim of this type of wrongdoing.
- In a case involving persistent or extreme interference with custodial rights, the custody order itself might be changed or amended by the court. For example, a custodial parent might lose custody. A noncustodial parent might face a suspension of parenting time.
When a court considers how to address a situation involving a parent interfering with the custodial rights of the other parent, the legal focus remains on the best interests of a child. In New Jersey, decisions made in regard to child custody and parenting time are governed by what is in the best interests of a child.
The application of the best interests of a child standard comes into play when interference with custody is at issue. The bottom line is that interfering with child custody always runs counter to the best interests of a child. Moreover, the manner in which that type is situation is rectified is subject to the best interests of a child standard as well.Legal Representation and Interference With Custody
If you face an issue involving custodial interference, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 to schedule a case consultation with an experienced lawyer.