There IS more to this Criminal Custodial Interference-thing
This seems to be the week for me to bite off my tongue in passing along information. As you may recall from a previous post regarding the use of police to enforce a visitation order, I stated that you cannot have law enforcement enforce your civil order, unless the Order specifically said so.
That IS true. But there’s more to this story than that. There is such a thing as criminal custodial interference. In Utah, statute that describes this and states what the class of crime it is is found at U.C.A. § 76-5-303. It is a CRIME in Utah to intentionally interfere with the custodial rights of another parent who has been awarded parent-time under a civil court order. This means that if you’re a jerk and keep your ex (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend) from seeing your kid(s) when it’s his or her turn under the Order, you can be charged with a crime. The statute is located here.
The purpose of this statute is to act as a sufficient deterrent, as well as a club, to prevent one parent from essentially eliminating the other from the child’s life. You’ll note that it’s actually a 3rd degree felony to remove the child from the state while doing this rotten thing to your ex. It’s a big deal. BUT. . .
And this is a big BUT, in all-caps: there is an intent element to this statute. That means that just because the kid doesn’t want to go with the other parent, and refuses to do so, you are not going to be convicted of custodial interference.
The statute specifically states, “with the intent to interfere with the custody of the child…”. You have to INTEND
to keep the kid from the other parent. Meaning, “I don’t want you to have the kids, so I’m taking him away, and not giving him to you.” NOT, “My 16-year-old daughter really doesn’t like you, and the only way to get her to go with you is to bodily put her in your car.” Not the same things. And the second one is not something that can get you charged with criminal custodial interference.
All that said, it is your JOB as a parent of your child to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent, even if you don’t like him/her, even if you think he/she is a total jackass, even if you hate his/her new spouse. It is not your job to make your kid’s life harder by undermining the other parent. So be proactive in encouraging that 16-year old to go with that parent she doesn’t particularly like. You do your best. Sincerely. Even when it’s hard (and believe me, it can be HARD sometimes.) That’s all that can be expected.
Just don’t be a jerk.