Serving all of Utah
Serving all of Utah

Utah Laws on Custodial Interference and Intent

In some disputes over child custody, each parent may be firmly convinced that the other one is unfit. However, unless there is convincing evidence that the child would not be safe and secure with one parent, you can expect family court to make arrangements for the child to maintain ongoing relationships with both parents. In theory, this is the best option for the long-term well-being of the child.

Therefore, if one parent subsequently violates the child custody agreement, the court is not pleased. In fact, intentional interference with the custodial rights of the other parent is a criminal offense in Utah. This does not mean you can get in trouble if you forget one time that you were supposed to bring your kid back on Saturday night, not Sunday morning. Or if your car breaks down on the way back from a vacation and you are late.

But a pattern of behavior that is meant to prevent one co-parent from exercising the visitation rights awarded by the court may be construed as a Class B misdemeanor. Leaving the state with your child without the authorization of the court and co-parent is a third-degree felony.

While Utah legal statutes make strict prohibitions against custodial interference, it also defines two affirmative defenses:

  • The other parent consented to the action
  • The defendant acted to protect the child from physical or sexual abuse

Your defense in the second case will be stronger if you have already alerted the authorities about your suspicions.

Utah family court does everything possible to protect the rights of the child when parents end their relationship. If you suspect that your ex is attempting to short-circuit your custody arrangements or you have been accused of interference, speak with a criminal defense attorney who has experience in handling custodial interference charges.


  • Aaron Rasmussen says:

    This is exactly what me ex is doing but shes using a falsified and unmerited PO to justify keeping my kids away from me. I was married for 16 yrs, sept of 2011 I was unexpectedly shocked to be served a unexpected PO at work. I had know idea leaving my home that morning, that after 12 yrs in my beautiful home I would never be returning to my children and our beautiful home again. Leaving me homeless, penningless (she drained our last 12k out of our account the day before I was served) and with out my children. How can this possibly be right?! 10 days later at the PO hearing, I was served divorce papers. I was never given a chance to defend the bogus allegations of the PO. 2 yrs later and I have lost my career, my assets and custody of my children, all because of a hurtful tactic that was supported by an experienced divorce attorney and me, not being knowledgeable with PO’s or having the money at the time to hire a good attorney. It’s unbelievable to me that one can legally manipulate the courts by using such a terrible and hurtful tactic as a fraudulent PO. AI totally believe that PO has so much potential devastating short term and long term effects on a family if not used for the protective tool that they are meant for… 2yrs later I’m still dealing with her frivolous and unwarranted PO violation tactics. I need help in getting this stopped.

  • Kory says:

    You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this anremyo?!

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