Interference with Child Custody is a Crime in Michigan

One of the end results of a divorce under Michigan law is an arrangement for custody, support, and parenting time for the couple's minor children. The details will be included in the final judgment of divorce and are binding on the parties, so you may expect there will be legal consequences to interfering with the terms of the order. However, did you know that interference with child custody is actually a crime in Michigan? If your parental rights have been disrupted by the actions of your former spouse, it's important to discuss the situation with a qualified child custody lawyer in Michigan. Consider these answers to some common questions before you're tempted to take matters into your own hands.

What does Michigan law say about interference with child custody?

Under state law, the adoptive or natural parent of a minor cannot take or retain the child from a custodial parent or guardian. There are three key elements to interfering with child custody:

1. The time period exceeds 24 hours;

2. There must be an intent to detain the child from the person having legal custody; and,

3. There must be a lawful court order in place regarding custody or parenting time rights.

What actions may constitute interference?

Officially, any act that violates an order of custody and parenting time and state law is interference. However, a 24-hour time period of detainment isn't the only factor. For instance, if your spouse consistently drops your child off late on a school night or fails to pick him or her up at a designated time, this conduct may constitute an interference with child custody terms resulting in civil enforcement. Any action that interferes with your time with your child can be interference and against the law or in violation of a court order.

What do I do if my custodial rights are disrupted?

The best - and most important - advice a child custody attorney will tell you is that you should never try to take matters into your own hands to address interference with custodial rights. While slight infractions are understandable, habitual or intentional disruptions of your right to custody or parenting time should be handled by the proper authorities. You can contact:

  • Your attorney to discuss your options;

  • The friend of the court assigned to your case, to request enforcement of custodial or parenting time rights; or

  • In extreme situations, the police if you believe your child won't be returned.

Talk to an Experienced, Compassionate Child Custody Lawyer

The final order of divorce is binding on both ex-spouses, so there are legal consequences for any violation of the terms. However, under Michigan law, interference with child custody could also be a crime with severe penalties. If your former spouse has disrupted your parental rights, you need a strong legal advocate to protect your interests. Attorney Michael A. Robbins has an extensive background in child custody matters and will take all enforcement action available under Michigan law. Please contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI office for more information.