Norwalk, CT Divorce Attorney

In the context of divorce, when one parent interferes with the rights of custody or visitation of the other parent, the severity of the abuse can range from issues of timeliness and telephone and email access to taking/kidnapping the child from the parent who has the right to custody or parenting (visitation) time with the child. The potential remedies depend on the circumstances. They can range from straight forward contempt motions and injunctive actions all the way to criminal charges. However it happens, custodial interference can potentially cause significant harm to children and the parent-child relationship.

Custodial interference generally refers to the taking or keeping the child so as to interfere with a parent’s rightful physical custody. In Connecticut automatic orders apply as soon as the service of process of a complaint for dissolution of marriage or an application for custody or visitation. They prohibit both parents from removing the minor child or children from the state of Connecticut, without written consent of the other or order of a judicial authority. If a child is removed from the state without the permission of the other parent, after commencement of the action for custody or divorce, it may constitute a criminal act as well as a violation of the court’s orders.

In Connecticut, absent a court order, the father and mother of every minor child are joint guardians of the child, and the rights and duties of fathers and mothers are equal. In other words, both parents have joint custody. Once court orders are entered that may change. In Connecticut when one parent purposefully deprives the other joint custodian of their joint lawful custody of the minor child, a defacto sole custody situation is created. In at least one case a Connecticut court has stated that such extra judicial measure taken by an abducting parent cannot be lawful. It has been held that a joint custodian is not inherently immune from criminal prosecution based solely on his or her status as a joint custodian. In addition to possible criminal remedies, which may or may not be applicable in a particular case, numerous types of civil remedies are available.

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