What constitutes Parental Interference?


Parents are divorced, no order in place with the court. Parents have agreed for past 5+ years on a 50/50 schedule and for the most part that is what the schedule has been. Historically, the mother often does not get the child on her days and the father keeps her extra so may actually be more like 60/40 in the father’s favor. The child is now 13. Due to the mother having no rules about online activity (she doesn’t even monitor it) or much of anything else the child is now at the mother’s house and refusing to come back to the father’s house. Child was grounded for one day from electronics and called the mother to come get her. Against the father’s wishes, the mothers showed up, picked her up and is now refusing to allow her to come back. This was 4 months ago. Father has been consistently contacting mother and daughter to have his visitation reinstated but they both refuse to even communicate at this point. Mother plainly states over and over that the child is making this decision and she isn’t going to force her to do anything.

We do not have a legal agreement to custody but have had the same schedule for YEARS. Is there any way to have the mother charged with parental interference? Or some similar charge? Other than starting a custody case with the court, is there anything we can do to ensure the father will have access to his child? We don’t want to wait for a custody case to play out.

At very least is this considered parental alienation (due to other details I believe it would be, without a doubt) and what are our possible repercussions for that?


One parent keeping the child from the other parent as you have described likely does not rise to a the level of a criminal offense.

Without a custody order or a separation agreement with custody terms, there is nothing else to do or fall back on short of filing a child custody lawsuit against the other parent. The parent withholding the child will not be perceived favorably by the judge.

The situation you describe could be parental alienation. Repercussions can include extra custodial time with the non-alienating parent and/or limited visitation with the alienating parent. Check out our detailed article on this issue, Parental Alienation in North Carolina.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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