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Roanoke Family Law And Criminal Defense
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Withholding custody? Don't, unless it's an emergency

Custody interference is a serious allegation to make against the other parent of your child. However, if you've been fighting to see your child and have not been able to because of the other person's actions, you may have a case against them.

With cases of custody interference, one parent decides to withhold custody from the other parent. There may or may not be a reason to do so, but parents are not allowed to withhold custody unless there is an emergency.

For example, a parent might decide not to allow their daughter to see the other parent because the mother has not paid child support. Regardless of whether the support is paid, no parent has a right to withhold custody to try to make the other party pay. They can, however, take the other parent to court over the missing payments and seek wage garnishment or other methods to make sure they're paid each month.

Is there ever a time when custody interference is legal?

There can be. For example, if your child comes home from the other parent's house without injuries but complains that they were attacked by the parent, you may want to look into asking the other parent what happened and determine if your child is being truthful or if they were simply disciplined. However, if they have welts, open wounds or other serious injuries that the other parent can't explain and your child claims are from being hit, you would be within your rights to withhold custody and to reach out to the authorities.

In most cases, parents don't have a right to withhold custody, because the parenting plan and custody schedule is already in place and is court ordered. When any document is ordered through the court, both parties are expected to follow through with the terms.

If you do face an emergency and need to withhold custody, make sure you contact your attorney first and that doing so is within your rights. You may need to reach out to the police or court for additional help in preventing the other parent from harming your child or seeing them without supervision if you are concerned for your child's well-being.

No two cases are alike, but if you have no significant signs of abuse or fear for your child's life, you should always uphold the custody arrangement that is in place until you get a modification from the court in Virginia.

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