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Can you defend interfering with child custody?

According to the 2016 Florida Statutes, interference with custody occurs when a person knowingly or recklessly takes or entices a minor or incompetent person from that person's lawful custodian without legal consent. Taking a child or dependent and concealing that person from his or her lawful parent or guardian with malicious intent is also considered to be interference with child custody.

As a parent, it's hard to consider losing a child because of someone interfering with custody. Some parents might want to prevent it by limiting contact with another parent, which isn't always fair. If you've been accused of interfering with child custody, you may believe that the case is black and white.

The truth is that there are some defenses for taking a child without legal consent. For instance, if you take a child because you believe that you had to in order to protect the child from danger, this is a solid defense in the eyes of the law. If you are a victim of an act of domestic violence or believe you were going to be a victim of domestic violence, it is a defendable act to take a child out of that situation with you.

If a minor or incompetent person goes with a non-custodial parent or other party without being enticed to do so, it is possible to defend yourself by saying that person requested to go with you. In the case that you end up with a minor in your care without the legal right to have that child or incompetent person under your guardianship, you have 10 days to take the minor to the sheriff's office or to the state attorney's office to discuss the situation. You need to report the name of the person who was taken, your name, phone number and home address, and the reason you have the minor in your care.

Source: Online Sunshine, "The 2016 Florida Statutes," accessed Nov. 01, 2016

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