Custodial interference occurs when one parent keeps a child away from a custodial parent and prevents him or her from having access to the child. This can occur when a non-custodial parent refuses to return the child to the custodial parent after visitation, or when a parent who shares joint custody refuses to allow the other parent to have their scheduled time with the child. In Illinois, this is more commonly called parenting time interference.
What Illinois Law Says about Custodial Interference
According to Illinois law, custodial and visitation interference is an unlawful act. The resulting punishment depends on the severity of the infraction, but the first offense typically brings a hefty fine. A second offense could lead to Class A misdemeanor charges, which could mean jail time.
Examples of Custodial Interference
Custodial and visitation interference in Illinois can take many different forms. Sometimes it is blatant, with the parent refusing to bring the child to the other parent. Sometimes, it is subtle, with a parent scheduling an extracurricular activity during the other parent’s scheduled parenting time without the other parent’s consent. A family law attorney can help parents determine if an action is a violation of Illinois parenting time law or not.
If a parent suspects the other parent is guilty of visitation interference, they must inform the parent, in writing, of the parenting agreement violation with the help of a family law attorney. If the parent does not change the behavior, further action can be taken to impose fines or bring criminal charges to the guilty party.
Is Custodial Interference Ever Valid?
Sometimes custodial or visitation interference is considered legal or valid, specifically if the parent breaks the visitation agreement to protect the child. For instance, if the parent is trying to protect the child from another parent who has been accused of violent behavior, then they can break custody orders legally. If the parent fails to return the child because the roads are dangerous due to a winter storm, or some other unique event occurs that would make it unsafe to return the child, then the parent is not considered in violation of the agreement. A family law attorney can help parents determine if a violation took place.