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Tips for when custody issues go from inconvenient to unlawful

Sharing custody of a child after a divorce can present numerous complications. And for many families, it takes some time to work out confusion and adjust to a new normal.

However, it is important not to mistake incidental issues or transitional hiccups for violations of a custody order. If you share custody of your child, it can be helpful to know what a serious violation looks like and what you can do should one occur.

Interference with custody

Periodically being late to pick up or drop off your child typically will not constitute a violation of custody. However, if a person fails to show up at all or entices a child away from the parent with custody, this can be custodial interference

A parent (or any party) who interferes with custody can face misdemeanor or felony charges, imprisonment and fines. 

Parental alienation

Parents don't always have nice things to say about each other, especially in the wake of a painful, contentious split. Parents might make mean comments when they think the children cannot hear them or infrequently when they get into a fight, perhaps. Under such circumstances, there may not be grounds for any legal action.

However, when a parent makes these statements to try and get a child to turn against the other parent without justification, it can be a serious problem. This could lead to allegations of parental alienation, which could be grounds for legal penalties and shifts in the custody agreement.

Contempt of court

Parents must comply with child custody and visitation orders. However, these orders cannot account for every possible issue or situation that may arise. As such, parents may need to stray from the order or make their own decisions in an isolated case. When such decisions are in the best interests of the child, legal action may not be appropriate.

However, a parent who violates a court order to the detriment of the child or the other parent's rights can face harsh penalties. 

If a parent's actions cross the line into a serious violation, know that there may be legal remedies available to protect your child and your parental rights. Therefore, it is wise to discuss with an attorney about any situation in which your child or your legal rights could be in jeopardy.

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