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Understanding Custodial Interference: Protecting Children’s Rights


Custodial Interference
Claudia Ovalles

As a Marine veteran and Texas resident, Claudia Ovalles experienced the challenges of military life firsthand. Now, she is championing the rights of children caught in the aftermath of divorce. In this blog post, we’ll explore the critical issue of custodial interference and its impact on families.


Custodial Interference Defined

Custodial interference occurs when a parent or individual intentionally withholds or retains a child against a court order, disrupting the parent-child relationship. This legal concept has been in existence for over 40 years, yet many parents remain unaware of its significance.

The Legal Landscape

  • State Laws: Every state recognizes custodial interference, although the terminology may vary. In California, it’s referred to as “deprivation of child custody,” while in Texas, it’s “interference with child custody.” Other states use terms like “parental kidnapping.”

  • Severity: In some states, custodial interference is a misdemeanor, but in the majority, it’s a felony—a serious offense with potential legal consequences.

Historical Context

The roots of custodial interference trace back to pivotal legislation:

  • Adam Walsh Act (1981): Named after a young abduction victim, this federal law aimed to prevent child exploitation and abduction.

  • Missing Children’s Act (1982): This act established the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to track missing children.

Why Awareness Matters

Despite its long history, custodial interference remains underrecognized. Parents need to familiarize themselves with their state’s specific statute. Understanding the nuances ensures informed action when faced with custody disputes.

Impact on Children

  • Emotional Toll: Custodial interference disrupts children’s lives, causing emotional distress and confusion.

  • Long-Term Effects: Fractured parent-child relationships can have lasting consequences, affecting trust, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Advocacy and Education

If you choose to participate as an advocate, your work is crucial. Raise awareness within your community, collaborate with organizations, and empower parents to recognize signs of interference. Legal professionals, therapists, and educators must join forces to protect children’s rights.


Together, we can create a safer environment for children navigating the complexities of divorce and custody battles.


Remember, every child deserves a stable and nurturing environment. Let’s stand up for their rights.

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