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What Is Interference With Child Custody In Florida?

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Both parents must spend time with their kids following a divorce when both have custody rights. Both parents are legally required to follow court-ordered visitation without interference.

Under Florida law, it is illegal to interfere with child custody. If a parent interferes with the other parent’s custodial rights, the offending parent can face criminal penalties for the interference.

It is a criminal offense for a parent or guardian to interfere with child custody. If you believe that your ex-spouse is trying to interfere with your custodial rights, you should contact an Orlando child custody attorney to discuss your options.

How Does Florida Law Define Interference with Child Custody?

Fla. Stat. § 787.03 defines interference with child custody as a person’s attempts to knowingly, unlawfully, or recklessly interfere with the custodial rights of a parent or guardian of a minor child.

When the crime is committed by one parent against the other parent of their child, the offended party must prove that the offending party’s malicious intent to deprive them of their right to custody.

What Are the Different Types of Interference with Child Custody?

There are three most common ways a parent may interfere with the other parent’s custodial rights:

  1. Denial. The most common type of interference with child custody is the denial of visitation. For example, if the non-custodial parent has child visitation rights, but the custodial parent says they cannot see their kids without good cause in violation of the custody order, the offending parent can be held responsible for interfering with child custody.
  2. Excuses. This one is a more subtle form of denial. If the custodial parent keeps making excuses to prevent the other parent from seeing their kids, they may be committing the crime of interference with child custody if they are acting with malicious intent. For example, the custodial parent may interfere with the other parent’s custodial rights by saying that the child is sick, has too much homework, or has other plans. While there may be legitimate reasons for not visiting the child (e.g., when the child is actually too sick), if the parent keeps making excuses, it may be because they are trying to interfere with child custody.
  3. Limit contact. It is also not uncommon for the custodial parent to attempt to limit the other parent’s contact with the child. This can be done by requiring the other parent to switch from in-person visits to Internet communications and phone calls for no reason. The parent may also interfere with child custody by reducing the quality or amount of time the other parent spends with the child.

What Are the Penalties for Interfering with Child Custody in Florida?

In Florida, interference with child custody is classified as a third-degree felony, which carries the following penalties:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • A fine not exceeding $5,000

Under certain circumstances, the spouse convicted of interference with child custody may be sentenced to probation. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney if your spouse is interfering with your custodial rights or if you are the spouse accused of interference with child custody.

Schedule a consultation with our lawyer at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., by calling 407-521-7171.

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