What are your options for fighting deprivation of custody?

No matter the reason for your divorce, you likely hoped that you and your former spouse could maintain a united front for your children. Yet, co-parenting is difficult when only one of you puts your best foot forward. Your former spouse may do everything in their power to keep you from seeing your children. If they deprive you of your parental rights, you have remedies available that can help you enforce your custody order and restore your relationship with your children.

Understanding deprivation of custody

In California, deprivation of custody happens when one parent interferes with the other’s scheduled custody or visitation. To meet the threshold for this act, the depriving parent must act with malice. Accidental or careless violations of custody orders do not qualify as deprivation in the state.

Your former spouse may be engaging in deprivation of custody if they:

  • Keep your children from you during your scheduled custody or visitation
  • Refuse to return your children to you after their scheduled custody or visitation
  • Return your children to you hours or days late after their scheduled custody or visitation
  • Entice or force your children to go with them during your scheduled custody or visitation
  • Leave the state or country with your children

Remedies for deprivation of custody

If your former spouse is depriving you of custody, you can contact your local police or child abduction unit to enforce your custody order. You also have the option of filing a contempt action against them in court. No matter your course of action, officials will compel your former spouse to follow your order at the risk of facing penalties otherwise.

Your former spouse could receive civil or criminal charges if they continue violating your custody order. If they do, they may have to provide restitution for any expenses you directed toward the return of your children. Depending on their actions and history, they could even face jail time. And you will likely modify your custody order, too, to reflect your former spouse’s conduct.

While deprivation of custody can be painful, you must take the high road if your former spouse is keeping your children from you. By understanding the remedies available, you can work toward reestablishing and strengthening your relationship with your kids.