When it comes to divorce, the ugliest part is often establishing custody of minor children. Custody battles not only do harm to the children, but they can harm to the parents as well. If you are angry with how your ex-spouse is handling this issue and frustrated with the time it takes for the court to order a resolution, you may be tempted to take matters into your own hands. This is a bad idea as there are three general ways you can commit a child custody crime in Texas, as outlined in the state's penal code.
1. Taking away or keeping your child
It is illegal to take away your child from or not give up your child to the other parent when in violation of a custody order. This applies whether there is a permanent custody order, temporary order, or a divorce and custody agreement in process. You also cannot persuade your child to leave the other parent and come with you.
2. Leaving the geographical boundary
You also cannot remove your child from the court's jurisdiction to prevent the court or other parent from accessing the child. If you return your son or daughter within three days, it can make a difference in your case.
3. Having someone else take away your child
It is not just against the law for you to do the above, but it is also illegal to have someone else do so. You cannot ask someone to abduct or entice your child away from the other parent for you. You may both face legal consequences.
Exceptions to the rules
There are certain exceptions to the above laws. Defenses for taking or retaining your child include the following:
- Escaping actual or attempted domestic violence against you and/or the child
- Being subject to circumstances outside your control that prevented adherence to the custody order
- Having legal possession of or access to the child and exercising that right
Understanding what is and is not criminal in custody cases can be tricky. It is best to speak with a Texas family law attorney with experience in child custody cases if you have questions .