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Criminal Charges: Interference with Custody

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A tool that is rarely used when someone defies a court Order enforcing custody and parenting time is the filing of criminal charges against the offender for interfering with custody.

In the recent case of State v. Thomas, a mother was convicted of third-degree interference with custody when she decided to take the parties’ daughter to a make-up water safety class rather than to the child’s father for his parenting time.  The child’s mother argued that the class was important for the child’s safety because there was a pool where she and the daughter lived.  The Court was not persuaded by the mother’s explanation for circumventing the agreed-upon parenting time schedule, and the mother was convicted of third-degree interference with custody at the trial level.  The Appellate Division upheld parts of the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for consideration of the other parts.

While this may not be the most conventional remedy in a parenting time dispute, it is important law and precedent to be aware of for those who need to enforce a parenting time schedule due to a lack of cooperation from the other parent, as well as for those parents who continually have their parenting time thwarted.  If you find yourself in either of these situations, please do not hesitate to contact me to further discuss your matter at jllawrence@nmmlaw.com.