The case of the Texas child kidnapped by her mother has brought up the
issue of custodial interference. The child was recently found living in
Mexico with her mother. The young girl was kidnapped in 2002 at the age
of four-years-old following an unsupervised weekend visit with her mother.
Instead of returning the child to her father, who had sole custody, the
woman fled to Mexico. There, they dyed their hair, changed their names,
and lived outside of Mexico City.
The father, United Stated FBI, and Mexican authorities were tipped to their
location in Mexico and set up a week-long sting operation to catch the
two. This is not the first time the mother and daughter have run into
authorities seeking their return to the United States, however, each time
they would assume new identities an evade capture.
The girl has been brought back to the United States and is dealing with
the trauma of the return. She is going to therapy in order to help her
re-adjust to life in the United States and without her mother. Due to
years of parental alienation and being told her father was abusive and
had molested her, she is not willing to see him or his family.
Custodial Interference in Texas
Texas Penal Code defines custodial interference as when a parent takes
a child when they willingly know it is against a court order not to. It
is considered a felony, and can be punished with up to two years of prison
time in Texas.
Ways that a parent can commit custodial interference include:
- Not allowing a parent to have visitation with the child as per court order
- Keeping the child past time allotment
- Restricting the child's phone communications with the other parent
- Visiting the child during times when the other parent has custody
When one parent interferes with custody, it should be reported to the court
and appropriate law enforcement. The court may be able to change the details
of the custody agreement or enact fines for instances when a parent interferes.
If custodial interference is a problem in your child custody agreement,
contact a trusted family law attorney as soon as possible!