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Interference with child custody likely treated as civil matter

Child custody agreements are in place to help keep the children's best interests protected. There are some instances in which the orders of the court aren't followed as they should be. In some cases, the child custody agreements are altered by the parents as part of a mutual agreement. In other cases, one parent alters the child custody agreement on his or her own, without the consent of the other parent. In that case, the parent who didn't agree to the changes may call the police department to help get the child custody agreement enforced. A new report reveals that an unwritten Texas law enforcement policy treats these types of complaints as civil matters.

The El Paso district attorney says that interference with child custody, which is a felony, are generally treated as a civil matter. He says that in 2013, his office was referred more than 70 non-arrest cases of interference with child custody. Of those, his office only accepted one case. He does say that his office might need to be a little more aggressive with repeat offenders, such as when there is an intentional violation of the court order that occurs repeatedly. He says these cases are too complicated to enforce criminally.

The district attorney does say that if every child custody case was pursued criminally, parents would be trying to get each other arrested. This report places a big emphasis on how important it is for parents to understand the child custody order. It also serves a reminder that parents shouldn't use children against the other parent.

If you feel that your child custody agreement isn't being followed properly, seeking assistance from a Texas family law professional might help you understand your legal options. While some Texas law enforcement agencies may not be willing to help, perhaps a family law court might be more accommodating.

Source:  KFOX 14, "Special Report: Interference with child custody not enforced in Texas" Bill Melugin, Feb. 03, 2014

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