There is one thing that is for sure, relationships can be extremely difficult
once a child’s parents break up or file for divorce. Naturally,
one of the most difficult aspects of any breakup is dealing with child custody.
Since most parents love their children more than anything, they usually
want what’s best for their kids. Unfortunately, when you break up
with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or start the divorce process, you must
follow the law in regards to custody, even if it's not what you want.
You must abide by Texas’ child custody laws, and you must follow
all orders by the court in regards to your children.
Under Sec. 25.03 of the Texas Penal Code, interference with child custody,
a person commits this offense when he or she takes or retains a child
under the age of 18:
- When they know that it violates the terms of a judgement, a court order,
or a temporary order that addresses the child’s custody;
- When that person has not been awarded custody of the child of the court
of jurisdiction, and knows that a divorce lawsuit or a civil suit has
been filed regarding the child’s child custody, and takes the child
out of the geographical area, or out of the county without the court’s
- They take the child outside of the United States as to deprive the other
parent possession and access to the child without that person’s
- The noncustodial parent persuades the child to leave the custody of the
In Texas, an offense under this section is a state jail felony, punishable
by 180 days to 2 years imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Are there defenses to this charge?
Yes, there are. It is a defense if the parent returned the child to the
geographical area of the court’s jurisdiction within three days
of committing the offense.
It is an affirmative defense if the taking and possession of the child
was pursuant to a valid court order, which provided for possession and
access to the child.
Lastly, it is an affirmative defense if the actor can prove that the retention
of the child was only due to circumstances beyond their control; for example,
if a flight was delayed, or if their car broke down.
In the case of an unexpected delay, the actor must have provided notice
or made reasonable attempts to provide notice to the other parent, letting
them know of the circumstances that led to their retention of the child.
If you are facing criminal charges for interfering with child custody,
contact a Plano criminal lawyer from The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for immediate assistance!