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Interference with Child Custody

Child custody disputes can be stressful for a lot of parents. It is easily one of the most emotionally charged issues in any separation or divorce. In Texas, it is against the law for any individual to interfere with a parent or guardian’s custodial rights to a minor. Therefore, any parent or guardian that violates court orders relating to child custody can face criminal charges.

Interference with child custody carries many long-term consequences in addition to steep fines and in some cases prison time. Interestingly, it’s not just parents who are charged with interference with child custody. In many instances, grandparents or other relatives can be charged with this offense if they keep a child against visitation or custody orders.

Interference With Child Custody Lawyer in Houston

If you or someone you know is facing a criminal charge stemming from a child custody dispute, contact Horak Law today. Matt Horak is an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who has helped many Texans fight their child custody interference charges. He will be your biggest advocate during this stressful time.

Horak Law represents clients throughout Houston, Texas. The law firm also defends clients in surrounding areas including Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Liberty County, Brazoria County. Call (713) 225-8000 for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Information Center

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What is Interference with Child Custody in Texas?

According to the Texas Penal Code § 25.03, the crime of Interference with child custody occurs when an individual knowingly persuades a child to leave the custody of their custodial parent or guardian because they want to interfere with the child’s lawful custody. An individual can also commit the offense if they take or retain a child younger than 18 years of age:

(1)  Knowing that their retention violates the express terms of a judgment or court order disposing of the child’s custody;

(2)  Knowing they have not been awarded custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction;

(3) Knowing that a suit for divorce or a civil suit or application for habeas corpus to dispose of the child’s custody has been filed;

(4) Outside of the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district without the permission of the court and with the intent to deprive the court of authority over the child; or

(5) Outside of the U.S. without the permission of a legal parent or guardian.

There are several situations in which child custody and visitation interference can occur. Common examples of interfering with a child custody order include canceling visitation days, failing to drop off a child at a designated time, and moving with a child to another state.

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Interference With Child Custody Penalties in Texas

A person convicted of child custody interference in Texas may face serious jail time, steep fines, and court hearings. Under the Texas Penal Code 25.03, the offense is considered a state jail felony. The alleged offender should be prepared to face up to 2 years of jail time and a maximum fine of up to $10,000 if they’re convicted.

Child custody disputes can be difficult to navigate because emotions often play such a large part in the proceedings. That is why it’s important to obtain legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney. As part of their strong advocacy for families, Horak Law understands the laws involved in child custody issues. They are always prepared to aggressively protect their clients’ rights.

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Defenses for Child Custody Interference

According to the Texas Penal Code § 25.03, an individual can utilize certain affirmative defenses against a child custody interference offense if they meet the criteria. There are certain facts that a skilled family violence attorney can use to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is not guilty of the crime.

The following are some admissible defenses for child custody interference under Texas law.

  • The taking or retention of the child was pursuant to a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child; or
  • Notwithstanding any violation of a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child, the actor’s retention of the child was due only to circumstances beyond the actor’s control and the actor promptly provided notice or made reasonable attempts to provide notice of those circumstances to the other person entitled to possession of or access to the child.

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Interference With Child Custody Resources

Texas Laws on Interference with Child Custody – Click this link to view Chapter 25 of the Texas Penal Code which constitutes Interference with Child Custody. Visit the website to learn several ways in which an individual can be charged with this offense.

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – Visit the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) website to view valuable resources on child custody and divorce. AFCC is the premier interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict. Click on the link and you’ll find FAQS parents ask about divorce, a guide for joint custody and more.

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Houston Child Custody Interference Defense Attorney, Texas

If you were arrested in Houston for alleged interference with child custody, you should aim to obtain legal representation. Horak Law has successfully defended thousands of criminal cases since 2006. Attorney Matt Horak work tirelessly to help you obtain achieve the most favorable outcomes in your case.

Horak Law aggressively defends clients accused of child custody interference throughout Conroe, Galveston, Houston, League City, Missouri City, Pasadena, Pearland, Richmond-Rosenberg, Spring, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and several other nearby communities in the greater Harris County area. Call (713) 225-8000 right now to have our Houston family law attorneys provide a thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation. We will work hard to protect your rights.

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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