Arrested for a child custody violation?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Fathers’ Rights on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Child custody cases can be difficult. Child custody orders or parenting plans detail the time a child spends with each parent and controls the decision making for the child. Child custody also affects the child support, as a parent with sole custody receives more dollars in child support than a parent with joint custody and shared parenting time.

While violations of child custody agreements are considered civil matters as a breach of part of the contract of marriage dissolution, in some states they may also potentially carry criminal charges when one parent refuses to allow the other parent access to the child. But how often is someone charged with that offense?

A television station in Texas looked at that state’s prosecution of Interference with Child Custody, as the criminal code section is known. What they found would seemingly provide support for many father’s rights groups arguments that the courts and prosecutors are biased against fathers.

They found only a handful of cases that had been prosecuted within the five largest metropolitan areas in the state. A few police departments had made some arrests, but most had no records of any arrests or charges.

The law enforcement authorities who did respond indicated that they saw this as a civil matter and referred the parties to civil court.

While we understand the police and prosecutor’s prefer to avoid becoming entangled in the divorce and child custody disputes of couples, one has to wonder at the purpose of the criminal law, which could impose a two-year sentence and is a felony, and yet is never prosecuted.

Knowledge that a criminal law is never enforced empties it of much force and virtually ensures that some parents will violate it, knowing they are safe from any chance of prosecution.

Source:, “Special Report: Interference with child custody not enforced in Texas,” Bill Melugin, February 3, 2014

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