Even if you have no interest in celebrity gossip, you may heard recent stories about the custody war between pop icon, Madonna, and her former husband, Guy Ritchie. The dispute centers
around their son, Rocco, who has lived primarily with his mother as per the terms of Madonna and Ritchie's divorce. Recently, Rocco ran away to England and begged his father to let him stay, saying that he no longer wishes to live with his mother. Unfortunately, Rocco is only 15, so the choice is not his according to the law. In fact, a judge in New York ruled that Rocco must be returned to his mother immediately, since the existing court order gives her primary custody. Ritchie, however, has decided to fight Madonna for permanent custody, believing that Rocco is old enough to decide where he wants to live. Both sides will have to present their arguments in court, but there's no doubt the case will be incredibly complicated since both parties live in separate countries.
While this legal battle may seem like a publicity stunt, it's more likely that both parents truly have Rocco's best interests at heart. Ritchie, however, cannot refute the terms of the existing custody order, which is why they will need to appear before a judge later this year. Failure to do so may result in Ritchie being charged with custodial interference, which is the act of taking, enticing, detaining or concealing a minor child in order to interfere with a parent's custodial rights. This is a problem faced by many divorcing couples in New Jersey as they wait for the final judgment of divorce. Although the courts establish a temporary custody arrangement during the course of the trial, it's not uncommon for one parent to disobey the orders through a variety of subversive actions. In some extreme cases, a parent may even flee to another country with the child and cut off all contact with the other parent.
If are being denied access to your child, you must retain legal representation right away. The family courts take custodial interference very seriously; it may even be charged as a crime under certain
circumstances. You must, however, petition the court to uphold the existing court order and ask to have your child returned immediately. Depending on your spouse's actions, the court will issue one or more remedies, including fines, make- up visitation time, changes to the custody order, and even jail
time. Although incarceration is rare, it is possible in cases of parental kidnapping, especially if the child was taken out of the country or placed in a dangerous situation.
Of course, the most important thing is to have your child back as soon as possible. Achieving this goal requires persistence, legal knowledge and trial experience, which is why you should speak to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. For more information on dealing with custodial interference, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.