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Sharing custody of your child with his or her other parent is not an easy situation, particularly if you do not like or trust that person. You might spend much of your time worrying if your child is happy and safe, and you can become understandably upset if your ex is not complying with your custody order.

These feelings could be the result of a difficult adjustment and challenging situation, or it could be the result of custodial interference. In the event that it is custodial interference, parents should know what this looks like and what they can do about it. 

What is custodial interference?

Broadly speaking, custodial interference is any action that interferes with your rights as a parent. Often, the other parent of a child is the one accused of disrupting your rights or custody order, though it could also be grandparents or other parties.

What does it look like?

Interfering with custody can take many forms. The most common forms include:

  • Taking a child without permission
  • Failing to return a child to the other parent as required by a custody order
  • Bribing (or otherwise enticing) a child to leave the custody of his or her parent
  • Spending time with a child outside of approved parenting time
  • Prohibiting a child from contacting the other parent 

Is it ever okay to do these things?

There are specific and limited situations in which interfering with custody may not be a violation. This can be the case if a parent believes a child is in danger or if such actions are unavoidable or outside the person’s control.

What happens if a parent interferes with custody?

Custodial interference is a crime in Pennsylvania, and a person can face second- or third-degree felony charges. Other remedies might include loss of parenting time, modification of a custody plan and stricter guidelines for custody exchanges.

If you have any concerns about custodial inference, then it can be crucial to discuss them with an attorney as soon as possible. Not only could your parental rights be on the line, but so could your child’s well-being.