What Are My Options If The Other Parent Is Interfering With Custody?

When you file for custody in Greenville, SC, you and the other parent will eventually be given terms governing custody. In most cases, this will be enough. But interference with custody orders is a problem for many parents. Refusal to follow the rules hurts the parent-child relationship and makes co-parenting far more hostile.

Custodial interference is action by one parent to take or keep the child from the parent with rightful custody. It may also involve improperly interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child. The intent is to deprive the other parent of some aspect of custody or visitation. Custodial interference can affect either the parent with custody or the parent with visitation. In other words, regardless of a parent’s custody or visitation rights, those rights must be respected by the other parent.

Examples of Custodial Interference

There are as many examples of custodial interference as there are court orders. One common example in Greenville, SC is a parent who fails to timely return the child to the other parent. Often this occurs because one parent does not want the other to develop a relationship with the child. Or, the parent who keeps the child may believe he or she is entitled to more time than was ordered. The offending parent may keep the child an extra night or two, or may decide to keep the child indefinitely.

Interference can take other forms as well. For instance, one parent might disparage the other in front of, or even to, the child. The parent could wrongfully try to discourage the child from returning to the other. Greenville, SC court orders usually require reasonable phone access to the child when in the other parent’s custody. An offending parent may refuse to allow the other parent telephone, email, or electronic access to the child. This, too, is an interference with custody rights.

What You Can Do About Custodial Interference

One way to prevent custodial interference is to use the contempt powers of court. Civil contempt may be used to award make-up time to the parent who was denied custody or visitation. The court may also award the parent his or her attorney’s fees and costs. Sanctions may also be an option in some cases. Under state law, these sanctions may include fines, community service, or imprisonment.

Civil contempt can be “purged” by the offending parent. That is, the court may issue sanctions but not enforce them as long as the parent stops violating the order. If a parent continues violating the order, he or she may be faced with criminal contempt. While civil contempt is designed to enforce court orders, criminal contempt is designed to punish parents who violate them. The sanctions required under criminal contempt orders cannot be purged as they can with civil contempt orders.

In some cases, parents in Greenville, SC even kidnap their own children. In this case, they may be facing more than contempt of court; they may be committing a crime. Section 16-17-495 of the South Carolina Criminal Code specifically addresses this and other instances of custodial interference. The statute makes it unlawful to violate a court order by taking or transporting the child from the legal custodian. More specifically, it is unlawful to conceal the child or attempt to avoid or circumvent the custody order.

A Greenvile, SC Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Each custody case is different, and results in its own unique order. If the other parent is violating your custody or visitation rights, you have legal options. The attorneys at Greenville Family Law can help prevent custodial interference so you can enjoy your time with your child. Call us today.

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