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Fathers' rights compromised in Texas police's unwritten policy

In cases where a woman is granted primary custody of a child or children after a divorce, non-custodial fathers are typically given visitation rights so that they can still take part in the growth and development of their children. Failure of the law to firmly impose these child custody court orders can result in one party's rights being compromised.

The Texas Penal Code states that if someone takes a child against a court judgment they face a punishment of prison time not to exceed two years. Despite this, the findings of a special assignment conducted by a Texas news station discovered otherwise. The findings suggest that law enforcement in the major cities of Texas may have an unwritten policy that such situations are considered family matters.

According to records in 2012, only the Austin Police Department had a record of arrests made because of interference with child custody. Other Texas cities, including San Antonio, El Paso, Houston and Dallas had no arrest records in regard to violation of this penal code.

This non-enforcement of one part of the penal code has infringed upon some fathers' rights. According to an interview with one Texas father, he was denied his visitation rights by the mother, making him unable to participate in his daughter's life. Another father said that even though there was a court order awarding him final custody of his three children, their mother did everything she could to keep them from him. Still the father claims when he tried to do something about it, the majority of the officers told him that it was out of their jurisdiction and was a civil matter.

With family law issues such as this, the court orders what it deems to be in the best interest of the child, so the concerned parties should follow these orders. Whether a father is the custodial parent or not, his right to shared parenting should never be compromised. If a father is not receiving what he believes would be appropriate support from law enforcement, he should immediately seek legal counsel. He may then be able to determine how best to proceed in handling the violation of a custody order.

Source: KFOX14, "Special Report: Interference with child custody not enforced in Texas," Bill Melugin, Feb. 3, 2014

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