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What is Considered Parental Kidnapping in Arizona?

Posted On May 24, 2021 In Child Custody

Arizona has specific laws that address custodial interference.  Custodial interference is when one parent knowingly acts contrary to a parenting plan or against the legal rights of the child’s other parent or lawful custodian.  The most serious type of custodial interference is parental kidnapping.

Parental kidnapping involves one parent taking a child in direct violation of a custody order.  This may include any of the following:

  • If a parent takes, entices, or withholds the child from the lawful custodian;
  • If a parent takes, entices, or withholds the child from the other parent before the court enters a custody order;
  • If a parent shares legal decision-making authority with the other parent but physically withholds the child from that parent; or
  • If a parent intentionally fails or refuses to hand over the child to the lawful custodian or obstructs the child’s return to that custodian.

If there are no court orders in place regarding child custody or setting forth a parenting plan, then no action can be taken against either parent until the court signs custody orders.  However, the mother of a child born out of wedlock has custodial rights of that child until a custody order is in place.

Refusal to Obey a Court-Ordered Custody Agreement

The police may be called if a parent refuses to obey a court-ordered parenting plan.  The police have the power to warn that parent or arrest that parent for resisting a court order.  Either way, a record is made proving police involvement should the court need evidence of parental wrongdoing for a future ruling.

If a parent continuously refuses to obey a court-ordered custody agreement and repeatedly interferes with the custody of the other parent, that parent can petition the court for changes in the parenting plan, including:

  • A new custody order and rules for visitation;
  • A new parenting schedule;
  • Make-up visitation time; and
  • Family therapy or mediation.

When custodial interference is severe or threatening, a parent can ask the court for the following:

  • Custody transfers at a police station or other neutral location;
  • Third-party supervision of visitation;
  • Restriction or loss of visitation rights or custody;
  • Fines and penalties; and
  • Criminal sanctions.

Custodial interference is a severe offense in Arizona and can result in penalties, including a criminal misdemeanor, felony, or loss of parental rights.  The court will act in the best interests of the child when determining punishment for custodial interference.

Exceptions to Custodial Interference Laws

There are exemptions to the custodial interference laws.  These are as follows:

  • The parent was protecting the child from harm;
  • The interruption to the parenting plan was previously agreed to;
  • The interfering events were outside of the parent’s control.

If you would like to discuss your custodial rights in Arizona, contact the experienced Chandler divorce attorneys at Wilson-Goodman, PLLC.  Whether your rights are being interfered with or you need advice on withholding your child from another parent due to dangerous circumstances in their home, Wilson-Goodman, PLLC, can help you.