Even if your divorce finalized months or years ago, you may find yourself in an ongoing custody battle with your ex-spouse. You might have hoped you two could maintain a civil relationship as co-parents. But your ex-spouse’s actions may have made this goal impossible. They may be limiting your access to your children – or denying it altogether. If they are doing either, you have ways to hold them accountable and preserve your relationship with your children.
How parents interfere with custody
If your ex-spouse disrupts your custody or parenting time, their actions may qualify as interference with custody. Their interference may happen in an indirect manner. And it could be tough to spot if you still have access to your children. Yet, you may find yourself disinvited from their events. Or, your ex-spouse may schedule enticing activities for them during your custody or parenting time. In these cases, your ex-spouse’s conduct may meet the threshold for interference.
If your spouse directly interferes with custody, it is likely that they are making it physically impossible for your children to see you. They may regularly return your children to you late after their custody or parenting time. Or, they may not return your children to you at all. Your ex-spouse might even have left New Jersey – or the United States – with them, without getting your permission. In these cases, you will need to take the appropriate steps to locate and recover your children.
The penalties for interfering with custody
Interference with custody is a criminal offense in New Jersey. Under state law, a parent, guardian or legal custodian cannot take, detain, entice or conceal a child from their other parent. If your ex-spouse has engaged in any of these actions, they could face stiff penalties. Likely, they will be found in contempt of court. Their interference could also be punishable by a prison sentence, as well as a steep fine. The court will likely enforce your custody order, too, and it is possible it could change as a result of your ex-spouse’s violations.
Fighting against custody interference can feel like an uphill battle. By consulting a legal professional, you can work to uphold the terms of your custody order and continue your relationship with your children.