Custodial interference is a felony. A person commits custodial interference if they keep the child from the parent who should have time with the child. Although the statutes in Arizona take custodial interference seriously, law enforcement is often reluctant to get involved. Police officers frequently refer to family cases as a “civil matter” and refuse to enforce parenting plans. Even in cases where the Court makes a finding on the record that one parent has violated the other parent’s time, prosecutors often will not bring charges because they do not see them as serious crimes.
In early March there was a perfect example of custodial interference. You can watch an interview with the my client Jeremy Powell which aired on Channel 3 KTVK here. Unfortunately, in cases like the Powell’s the reluctance to prosecute and the lack of guidance to the police allows out of control parents to remain unchecked for too long. Luckily Jeremy’s son has been returned home safe and sound, but there are many more cases where there is not such a positive outcome.
Ultimately the family Courts will not tolerate this type of action by a parent, but enforcing parental rights in the short term is too often stymied by the reluctance of law enforcement to take decisive action. If you are the victim of custodial interference, you should
- retain legal counsel;
- document and report all acts of custodial interference;
- stay in frequent contact with law enforcement and prosecutors assigned to your case, and
- ensure that your parenting plan has safeguards to prevent future interference.
If you are having issues with parenting time and child custody arrangements, please contact me at (480) 833-1113 and I will be happy to help.