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Mother receives deferred sentence for child custody interference

California parents often find that it is not uncommon for emotions to overwhelm judgment and reason in matters concerning child custody. Sometimes child custody disagreements can lead to one parent not adhering to court-ordered custody arrangements, which can cause high levels of anxiety for the other parent, who will naturally be concerned about the safety of the children. Fortunately, the criminal justice system provides legal methods that can return the children to the custodial parent.

A mother in another state was recently found guilty of felony custodial interference and received a deferred sentence for two years. The custody dispute arose from an incident in Aug. 2013 when the father, who is the parent with legal custody, allowed the children to spend some time with their mother. The two parents agreed that the mother would have physical custody for 10 days and would then return the children to the father's home before Aug. 9, in time for the start of school. However, the mother failed to honor the agreement and the father brought the matter to the attention of police on Aug. 19.

He stated that he and the children's mother were working on drafting a practical parenting plan, and he did not expect that she would refuse to return the children. A judge issued a court order for the mother to return the children to the physical custody of their father until the parenting plan is finalized. Upon receiving the court order from the custodial parent's legal representative, she refused to bring the children back. The mother and children were located in a different state three days after the matter was reported.

A custodial parent in California, who fears the possibility of interference from the other parent, may benefit from discussing his or her fears with a professional. By understanding his or her rights and knowing how to prevent custodial interference, he or she may be provided some level of reassurance. Parents who struggle to agree on the details of a parenting plan or other child custody issues may be also want to consider using mediation services. A mediator aims to assist parents in making decisions that will be in the best interests of the children, while accommodating the wishes of both parents.

Source:, "Helena woman gets deferred sentence for taking her children from custodial father", Eric Killelea, Dec. 10, 2014

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