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Interference with Child Custody

Divorce, depending on the circumstances, can be an extremely emotionally charged event. The dissolution can be even more contentious and heated if the couple shares minor children. Divorce courts require divorced couples to develop a custody plan if they both wish to be custodial guardians of the children. Any violation of a child custody order is a violation of the Texas Penal Code Section 25.03 and will result in criminal charges.

Although the crime is usually non-violent, interference with child custody is classified as a felony offense. If convicted, you could be facing years in prison as well as lose custody of your child or children. Fortunately, you do have options and can hire an experienced Houston family violence lawyer to challenge the state’s allegations.

Harris County Lawyer for Interference with Child Custody

Most are unaware of how serious the penalties are for breaking a child custody order until they’re finally arrested. The crime is classified as a state jail felony and carries a jail sentence of up to two years as well as a $10,000 fine. With so much at stake, it’s incredibly important you have experienced legal counsel on your side if you’ve been arrested for violating a child custody order in Texas.

Matthew Horak is a skilled criminal defense Houston lawyer with a special focus in crimes involving high emotions and domestic violence cases. He can aggressively defend your rights and work to preserve your future. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation.

Horak Law is located in The Woodlands and Houston, but we accept clients in Brazoria County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Harris County, Montgomery County, and more.

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What is Interference with Child Custody in Texas?

Child custody arrangements, even if you’ve been at it for years, can be difficult to follow and stressful based on a parent’s circumstances. There may be instances in where the child must go to the other parent, but you accidentally forgot, or an emergency occurred that made transitioning the child impossible. Unfortunately, prosecutors will likely not understand the full picture and may still file interference with child custody charges against you if you fail to uphold your child custody agreement.

The crime is outlined under the Texas Penal Code section 25.03. The code states a noncustodial parent commits interference with child custody if you:

  • With the intent to interfere with lawful custody of a child under 18 did any of the following actions:
    • Persuade or entice the child to leave the other parent’s custody
    • Takes or retains the child knowing that it violates the terms of a judgement or order, including temporary orders, of a child disposing of the child custody
    • If you haven’t been awarded custody yet and know a suit for divorce, civil suit, or application for habeas corpus to dispose of the child’s custody has been filed, but still take the child out of the jurisdiction without permission and have intent to deprive the court authority of said child.
    • Take or retain the child outside the United States with the intent to deprive the other parent access to the child without permission from the court

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Interference with Child Custody Texas Punishment

Interference with child custody is an incredibly serious offense that carries potentially life-changing penalties. Conviction for the offense will result in a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The statute does permit some admissible defenses for those accused of interference with child custody where offenders can justify why they violated the order and ultimately get their charges dismissed.

The Penal Code Section 25.03 states offenders who take the child out of jurisdiction without permission can present to the court the defense they returned the child within three days after the dates of the commission of the offense. Essentially, your charges may be dismissed if you bring the child back in three days.

If the offender took the child(ren) out of the United States, they may be able to utilize one of the following admissible defenses if they apply:

  • The children were taken or retained pursuant to valid orders providing for possession of or access to the child or children.
  • The child was only retained because of circumstances out of the offender’s control and they did provide prompt notice and/or made attempts to provide notice of these circumstances in a reasonable time period to the other parent.

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Additional Resources

Family Violence Forms – Visit the official website for TXAccesss, a library of Texas court forms and documents you may need. Access the site to look up various paperwork related to family law and how to file a contempt of court motion if your ex-partner isn’t following their end of the custody agreement or parenting plan.

Interference with a Child Custody Order Texas Statute – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about their laws regarding offenses against the family. Access the site to learn more about other domestic violence offenses including domestic assault, bigamy, enticing a child, criminal nonsupport, and more.

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Houston Lawyer for Violation of Custody Order

If you or someone you know has been accused of violating a custody order, call Horak Law. Matthew Horak is skilled at handling crimes against the family including violations of child custody. He can review the facts of the case and develop a defense plan tailor made to undermine the prosecution’s argument. Call Horak Law today to learn more about your legal options at (713) 225-8000.

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  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion