A Legacy of Justice. A History of Success. Proud to Serve as Clarksville's Attorneys Since 1929

This holiday, avoid situations of custodial interference

The holidays can be particularly upsetting for people who have recently gone through a divorce. Not only do the adults in these situations struggle to adjust to new traditions and schedules, but the children can go through some difficult transitions as well.

During this time, it is up to the parents to make sure kids feel safe, secure and free to enjoy the holidays as much as possible. While this can be a challenge, one of the easiest ways to do this is to know and explain the holiday plans with kids and then make sure to follow through on those plans. People who fail to do this can face some serious consequences and put the safety of their children at risk.

Sadly, too many parents, grandparents, stepparents and other parties who care for a child fail to appreciate these facts. They instead believe that keeping a child or violating a court order is what they need to do to protect themselves and the child. This can lead to devastating situations where a child may be missing or in danger.

The act of keeping, hiding or taking a child beyond the arrangements set in a custody and visitation plan is known as custodial interference. It is prohibited by Tennessee laws under nearly every circumstance, though there are exceptions when the safety of the child is at stake. However, even then, a court will need to make a ruling on whether that is an appropriate defense.

This holiday, parents upset with their current parenting plan may be tempted to keep a child past the agreed-upon time or try to take the child out of the state without permission. However, this does not just put a child at risk; it can also put a parent's custody and visitation rights at risk.

If you have questions or concerns about what you can or cannot do in terms of parenting time during the holidays, then you should discuss your situation with your attorney before making any drastic (and potentially unlawful) decisions.