Custodial Interference: what it is and how to battle it – a starting point
When I was asked to write an article on this subject I struggled, and literally had to force myself to painstakingly type out my thoughts on this topic. Not because I didn't feel like I had adequate experience with it, (I have too much experience with it, not only in dealing with it, (I had a nice humbling slice of it yesterday in fact) but rather, the exact opposite of that. I know too much about custodial interference. Not only because I have had first-hand experience in being denied court ordered PARENT TIME (notice how I refused to refer to it as VISITATION, that is one of the things the legislature got right about custodial interference and custody matters (THANK YOU FOR THAT!!)) In case you were wondering if I am a ‘Mad Dad’ or someone who does not appreciate those who attempt to enforce the laws, especially ones that protect children, let me put that worry at ease. I'm just someone who thinks child abuse is wrong. Yes, I'm the president of the Father's Rights of Utah, but don't let that make you think I only want rights for Fathers, I'm re-married, and even have some children from my Wife's first marriage that live with me.
I'll say it again that I think refusing to enforce custodial interference is in fact ENABLING CHILD ABUSE, some of the worst kind of child abuse one could ever allow to happen or participate in.
Frankly, I would rather write an article about unicorns, the tooth fairy, chasing rainbows to find a pot of gold at the end of it, or ANYTHING more tangible and realistic than this topic. Not only because my blood starts to curdle, simply by hearing the two words combined, but also, because getting a custodial interference charge to stick (APPARENTLY, because no prosecutor seems to even try) is like pulling teeth, from a Rhino, whose cracked out on PCP and has a hangover, while using tweezers and hoping to actually accomplish your goal without being stomped on, eaten, or gouged repeatedly.
All antics aside, it really does feel that devastating, and then some, when your children are kept from you, and no one will help you, even with a court order, your kids are still kept from you. The parents divorced each other, not the children, so law enforcement, please, keep it that way.
In trying to facilitate parent time with my own child in common with myself and my former spouse, I have also had the incredibly frustrating experience of reporting custodial interference to the police, and to be honest, it only compounds the problem, because little to nothing is done about it, typically.
The custodial interference laws in Utah, including the amendments, sponsored by Carl Wimmer, (former police officer for West Valley City of 10 years) that I personally testified on are still being ignored. Despite the efforts of MANY (myself included) the law is nearly desuetude. It is defunct, it is broken, it is failing all of us. Don't let your failure to properly report it be a part of why the changes to this law that is in the criminal code, fail you.
Children are crying their guts out, every single night and day, along with full blown adults who sometimes due to the amount of strain it causes, lash out in horrible ways. Violence is increased, sometimes to the point of Utahns losing loved ones, over custody issues, because of extreme violence, largely because the custodial interference laws are not enforced. This is so unacceptable, and needs your support to change!
You can watch a video with some advice on interacting with police during your divorce, here.
The LEGAL description of custodial interference is pretty simple and straightforward. Custodial interference occurs when one parent does not allow court-order time with the parents’ child in common. Dealing with custodial interference, reporting it, and getting anything done about it is something else altogether. THIS IS SUCH A SIMPLE PROBLEM TO FIX! Just explaining the law PROTECTS the kids from being ripped from the loving arms of a loving parent.
A presumption of 50/50 rights is something Utah DESPERATELY needs. This means it should be assumed (UNLESS PROVEN OTHERWISE) that both parents are crucial to their child's overall well-being, and should provide support mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially to the children in common.
Candidly, most often it’s the mothers who commit custodial interference, not because women are evil, but because they are typically awarded custody in Utah. It does happen the other way around, but it seems to be unbalanced in that regard, in Utah. If this topic concerns you, get off your hiney and do something about it this year on capitol hill. Search Facebook for groups who will help you support fair enforcement of 76-5-303. If you want to add the author of this article or message me on Facebook, feel free. I can add you to the support groups that are by nature, secret, so as to not compromise sensitive information during the divorce process.
Here’s a link to Utah’s custodial interference statute. Print out several copies, along with your divorce decree or parent-time (visitation) order, and HIGHLIGHT IN YELLOW the parts of your decree or parent-time order that cover when YOUR custody starts and who has which weekend. DO NOT LEAVE ANY ROOM FOR MISTAKES OR CONFUSION when reporting custodial interference to the police. Keep a copy of your decree, and evidence it is your weekend with you in the car when you go to get your child in common for your parent time.
Prepare to be told by law enforcement that custodial interference is not a crime, or that it is a crime, but that your ex is not committing the crime of custodial interference. Prepare to be met with apathy and indifference not only by the police, but by the prosecuting attorneys responsible for charging people with custodial interference.
Prepare to be told by the police that they may not even give you an incident number when you report custodial interference. You must insist to get a police report or an incident number if you plan to use it as proof that you reported custodial interference and what you allege was happening. Then you may need to go to the police department and pay to get a copy of the incident report. If you are told that Custodial Interference is a civil matter, simply reply with “Custodial interference is a crime defined in Utah’s criminal code, Section 76-5-303 to be exact; here, I have a copy for your reference.”
Don’t be smug. Don’t take out your frustrations on the officer. Be respectful; do not get your emotional issues all over the officers. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR COOL, and Daddy onward.