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Interfering with Child Custody Orders: Cleveland Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Interfering with a child custody order is actually illegal in the state of Ohio. This can arise when one party of a separation or divorce will not return the child once their time is up. In other cases, it occurs when a relative or a friend of the family refuses to return the child to his or her parent or guardian. Whether the offending parent has custodial rights or not, this charge can be imposed.

There are different degrees of custodial interference. Custodial interference can involve the failure of the offending parent to return the children for their scheduled parenting time at the time scheduled. The offending parent can also fail to make the child available for parenting time in accordance with the agreement. The most serious type is when the child is taken out of state or out of the country away from their parent. If you are facing charges of interfering with child custody orders in Ohio, seek out an Ohio criminal defense attorney at once to learn about your rights and options. 

Ohio Custody Laws: What You Need to Know

Ohio Custody Laws

The Ohio Revised Code § 2919.23 specifically criminalizes the act of interfering with child custody orders. The laws are designed to prevent the unauthorized taking, retention, or concealment of a child (or “personal identified in division”) from the other parent or guardian, embodying Ohio’s commitment to the welfare and best interests of the child.

Interfering with custody is typically considered a misdemeanor in Ohio. The exact level of the misdemeanor may vary depending on the circumstances. However, the crime can be elevated to a felony if certain conditions are met, such as taking the child out of state without consent or if the interference is persistent and severe.

Types of Custodial Interference

When a Child is a Ward of the Juvenile Court (Ohio Revised Code §2919.23.)

A child under the age of eighteen may become a ward of the juvenile court when there are serious concerns about the child’s safety or well-being. This could result from an investigation by child protective services, a law enforcement agency, or other authorities that identifies a need for court intervention. In some situations, the parents may retain some rights and responsibilities, such as visitation, while in others, parental rights may be terminated altogether. The court’s decisions will be guided by what is considered to be in the child’s best interests. In either case, interference with the court’s decision is considered a criminal act. 

Parenting Time Custodial Interference (Ohio Revised Code §3119.09)

Parenting time interference is a form of custodial interference that specifically targets the obstruction of a parent’s court-ordered time with their child. It can manifest in various ways, including chronic lateness in transferring the child, denial of scheduled visitations, or persistent interruptions during the parent’s time with the child. In Ohio, this conduct can be considered a serious legal violation, reflecting the state’s emphasis on preserving the child’s relationship with both parents. Ohio child custody law considers both direct and indirect interference a violation of the parenting arrangement. 

  • Direct Interference: This occurs when one parent actively prevents the child from spending time with the other parent, such as refusing to drop off the child at the agreed time or place.
  • Indirect Interference: This involves more subtle actions that may disrupt or undermine the other parent’s relationship with the child, such as interfering with communication between the child and the other parent.

Penalties for Interference With Custody in Ohio

The penalties for interfering with child custody can include criminal fines, jail time, community service, and mandatory counseling or parenting classes. Additionally, the court may impose family therapy, supervised parenting time, or other measures to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.

In most criminal cases, the crime of interference with custody is fact sensitive and will have varying outcomes based on the specific visitation arrangement.

In some instances, contempt-of-court sentences are applied, but that is not always the case. Some of the expected consequences may be:

  • Fines/jail time
  • Reimbursement of attorney’s fees incurred by the target parent
  • Family therapy
  • Supervised parenting time for offending parent

When there is interference with a custody issue, the police are often called and get involved. Although matters of this nature may be handled in civil court as much as possible, an arrest can take place.

If the case is prosecuted and a defense is required on your behalf, you should seek out experienced legal help at once. 

Defending against a charge of custodial interference requires a thorough understanding of the specific family dynamics, custody arrangement, and any underlying legal issues. The target parent may pursue civil remedies such as filing for a modification of custody or visitation orders and seeking more favorable terms. Courts may also hold the offending parent in contempt, resulting in additional penalties and legal consequences.

 If facing these charges, it is highly advisable to seek experienced legal counsel. Defense strategies may include demonstrating a lack of intent, misunderstanding of the custody order, or necessity due to the child’s immediate welfare. 

Ohio’s custody laws also emphasize prevention and resolution through non-legal means. Encouraging open communication and cooperation between parents can often prevent misunderstandings that lead to legal issues. Mediation or alternative dispute resolution may be effective in resolving custody disputes without resorting to legal action. A family law attorney who is well-versed in the criminal justice system can be vital in ascertaining what measures are most likely to result in a favorable outcome for you should you face charges of custodial interference. At the same time, your attorney will be prepared to represent you in Ohio court should the charges related to your custody case necessitate stronger legal defense. 

Navigating the complexities of Ohio custody law requires legal guidance and support. A legal aid who these intricate laws and regulations is essential to protect the rights and best interests of all parties involved. If you or someone you know is facing these challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional assistance from Patituce & Associates, LLC. 

Contact our experienced legal team today for a confidential consultation. We are here to help you understand your options, advocate on your behalf, and guide you through every step of the legal process. Your child’s well-being is our priority, and we are committed to providing the support and legal expertise you need. Call us at (216) 208-4579 or contact us online today so we can fight for you!