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What happens if child custody, parenting time laws are violated?

Like other states, New Jersey has laws in place designed to penalize those who attempt to interfere with or violate the court's orders regarding child custody and parenting time. Interference with a parent's custody time order is criminally punishable. Violating a custody or parenting time order may additionally bring other consequences from the family court.

Interference with custody can be prosecuted as a second-degree criminal offense if a child is taken outside the United States or for more than 24 hours in violation of a custody order. In other cases, custodial interference is punishable as a third-degree criminal offense with potential penalties of three to five years of incarceration or a fine of up to $15,000. Those who are convicted of failing to comply with a court order and are thus held in contempt may be held in custody for up to 18 months and be assessed a fine of as much as $10,000.

If a court finds that a person has violated an order related to custody or parenting time, it can also provide a number of additional penalties. The court can order additional time with the child to make up for the time lost. The court can also order economic sanctions, including losses incurred by a parent who waited for the other to show up for his or her scheduled time. Counseling may be ordered as may be a modification of transportation arrangements or pick-up and drop-off arrangements. The court may also modify the child custody agreement and order the violating parent to complete community service.

Violating a child custody order can result in severe penalties. If the parent removes the child in interference with the other's custodial rights, he or she may face criminal prosecution. If he or she fails to show up, he or she may face other sanctions from the court. A family law attorney could represent the custodial parent in enforcement proceedings against the other parent in a situation like this in order to potentially recuperate the custodial parent's losses and improve the child's quality of living.

Source: New Jersey Judiciary, "Parenting Time: A Child's Right", November 21, 2014

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