After you divorced, you may have hoped that you and your former spouse could co-parent in a civil, effective manner. But now, you might meet resistance from them at every turn. They may make it difficult, if not completely impossible, for you to see your children. Yet, it’s important to understand your options for enforcing your custody order, as well as the penalties in Texas for custody interference.

Understanding custody interference

Custody interference happens when one parent breaks the terms of a custody order. Law enforcement officials often treat this offense as a civil violation. Yet, under Texas law, certain types of interference constitute criminal behavior.

While some acts of custody interference are blatant, others are less obvious and may seem like mistakes at first. But if you fail to act once you notice them, they may worsen over time. Some signs that your former spouse is interfering with your custody order include:

  • Preventing your children from communicating with you
  • Prohibiting you from attending your children’s school activities and events
  • Failing to show up at the arranged time and place to exchange your children
  • Refusing to return your children to you
  • Taking your children during your court-ordered time
  • Moving states – or crossing state lines – with your children and without your permission

The consequences of custody interference

If your former spouse is engaging in custody interference, you may file a motion to enforce. Based on your petition, a court will compel them to uphold your custody order. Depending on their interference, they could receive civil or criminal consequences as well. For major offenses, your former spouse may face felony charges and could spend up to two years in prison if convicted.

While custody interference is a serious offense, you have ways to uphold your order’s terms. By exercising your available options, you can work to preserve your relationship with your children.