Interference With Child Custody And Penalties

New Jersey residents could find interest in what is considered interference with child custody. Since arrangements for custody are court-ordered, interference may be seen as a crime, and penalties may be imposed. Interference may be the result of actions by a parent or other custodians.

If a child’s parenting time after divorce is affected by detaining, concealing or enticing a child for this purpose, the individual may be considered to be interfering with the court order. Other ways of intruding on custody may include concealing the child before issuance of a temporary or final custody order but after being informed that an issue affecting custody exists. In addition, if an order involving protective services is made known before an order is issued, the same tenets hold true.

Criminal charges may be filed if a parent is found to be willfully interfering with court-ordered custody. It may be considered a second-degree criminal offense when someone removes the child from the country or for a period in excess of 24 hours. Otherwise, interference with child custody is considered a third-degree offense. Penalties for a third-degree offense may include the levy of a fine up to $15,000 and three to five years in prison.

There is a difference between interference with child custody and noncompliance, which is considered contempt of court in New Jersey. This is considered a fourth-degree offense and may incur up to 18 months’ jail time and up to $10,000 in fines.

An attorney may assist a parent whose child is removed from them against a court order or before a court order has been issued. The attorney may work with the parent as well as law enforcement entities to have the child returned and the violator prosecuted.

Source: New Jersey Courts, “New Jersey Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a) — Interference with Custody“, October 22, 2014