Custodial Interference – Arizona’s Laws
Custodial interference involves an individual interfering with the custody rights of another person.
According to A.R.S. 13-1302, a person commits custodial interference if, while knowing they have no legal right to do so, they engage in one of the following points:
- Taking, enticing, or keeping a child (or person who is incompetent) from the lawful custody of another person or institution.
- Taking, enticing, or withholding any child from the other parent, denying them access to the child, before a court order determining custodial rights has been entered.
- Taking, enticing, or withholding the child from the physical custody of person with whom they share joint custody.
- Intentionally failing to return, refusing to return, or impeding the return of a child to the lawful custodian at the expiration of access rights outside this state.
For any child born out of wedlock, the mother becomes the legal custodian of the child until paternity is established or the court determines custody of, or access to, the child.
Defenses to Custodial Interference
A person cannot be convicted of point (2) if:
- They have begun the process to obtain an Order of Protection within a reasonable period stating their belief that the child would be at risk if left with the other parent or
- They have begun the process of filing for custody within a reasonable period stating their belief that the child would be at risk if left with the other parent and
- They are the child’s parent with the right of custody and
- They have a good faith and reasonable belief that the taking, enticing, or withholding is necessary to protect the child from immediate danger or
- They are a victim of domestic violence by the other parent and have a good faith and reasonable belief that the taking, enticing, or withholding is necessary to protect the child from immediate danger.
A person cannot be convicted of points (2) or (3) if:
- They have filed an emergency petition regarding custodial rights with the superior court and have received a hearing date from the court and
- They have a good faith and reasonable belief that the child would be in immediate danger if left with the other parent.
Penalties for Custodial Interference
Offenses committed by anyone other than the parent, agent of the parent, or custodian or agent of the custodian, are class 3 felonies. First time offenders can face up to 8.75 years of incarceration.
Offenses involving a child or incompetent person being taken, enticed, or kept from lawful custody out of this state by the parent, agent of the parent, custodian, or the agent of the custodian, excluding point (3), are class 4 felonies. First time offenders can face incarceration of up to 3.75 years.
Offenses committed by the parent, agent of the parent, custodian, or agent of the custodian, are class 6 felonies. First time offenders can face up to 2 years of incarceration.
Offenses where the child or incompetent person is voluntarily returned without physical injury by the parent, defendant, or agent of the parent or defendant within 48 hours after they were taken, enticed, or kept from lawful custody, are class 1 misdemeanors. First time offenders can face incarceration of up to six months.
Examples of Custodial Interference
- Deliberately limiting a child’s contact with the other parent with whom custody is shared.
- Visiting a child during the other parent’s scheduled time without first gaining their permission.
- Failing, or refusing, to bring a child to their scheduled time with their other parent.
- Taking a child before the court orders to do so have been put in place.
Rideout Law Group has unique experience with both criminal and family law matters, enabling a more thorough and aggressive approach to cases of custodial interference.
RIDEOUT LAW GROUP
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