Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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No need to let a custody dispute result in criminal charges

In another state, a man and his father who were arrested following an event at his estranged wife's home last summer have had their cases moved to an intervention program. Both men were charged with child custody interference and burglary, but the court has agreed that this rehabilitation program is the best course of action rather than pushing other criminal punishments. Whether one resides in Massachusetts or elsewhere, if dealing with a custody dispute, there is no need to let it get so far that it becomes a criminal matter.

According to a recent report, a 31-year-old male who had been separated from his wife for approximately five months went to her residence with his father to collect his children due to concerns about their welfare. According to the man, he believed she was constantly using drugs and alcohol and participating in other activities with the children present that he felt were concerning. The father of two allegedly broke into the home and, with the help of his dad, took the children and left the scene.

The mother promptly called police, who began an area search. Approximately two hours after this event took place, the young dad brought his children to the police station and explained that there is not custody order in place yet and that he had concerns about the children's safety. He and his father were arrested, and the children were returned to their mother.

It is not uncommon for a custody dispute to get out of hand. However, there are certain ways in which such a situation should be handled so that it does not result in one parent facing criminal charges. If a Massachusetts couple is separated, going through a divorce or is divorced, it is possible to obtain a child custody order or modification so that the best interests of the children are being protected. If necessary, an emergency custody hearing can be requested. An experienced family law attorney can assist in filing such a motion so that the children are put in the best possible position while the parents either finalize the dissolution of their marriage or work through their issues.

Source: njherald.com, "Father, son charged with interference of custody entered into PTI", Joe Carlson, March 21, 2017

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