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Florida case highlights issues of paternity, custodial interference for unmarried couples, P.3

We’ve been looking in recent posts at a recent story involving a Venezuelan couple involved in a custody dispute. As we’ve noted, one of the issues in the case is that the father was not presumed to have paternity rights to the child, which is why he was charged with custodial interference.

Custodial interference is not an issue that impacts only unmarried couples, of course. It can impact any couple. The core of custodial interference is to, without lawful authority, knowingly or recklessly take or entice—or to aid, abet, hire or procure somebody to take or entice— a minor or incompetent person from the custody of his or her parent, guardian or lawful custodian. 

For parents, custodial interference can occur when there is no court order determining custody or visitation rights, and the parent takes, detains, conceals or entices the minor or incompetent child within or out of the state with malicious intent to deprive the other parent of his or her right to custody. This can occur with parties who are not the parent of the child as well.

There are certain situations where custodial interference may be defensible, such as: when there was reasonable cause to believe it was necessary to keep the child safe; the parent who interfered was the victim of domestic violence and there was reason to believe another attack was going to occur; the child freely asked to be taken away, there was not intent to commit a criminal offense, and it was reasonable to rely on the request of the child.

Allegations of custodial interference can be complicated and fraught with misunderstanding, of course, and it is important for any parent involved in such a case to have solid guidance and zealous advocacy to ensure their rights, and their child, is protected. 

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