Father Flees Florida With Child; Faces Charges of Felony Interference With Custody of Child

News-Press.com out of Fort Meyers, Florida, is reporting that a father faces felony charges of interference with custody of a minor child after fleeing the state and hiding his child in Michigan.

The child’s father and mother had been divorced since May of 2010, and the father was exercising his regularly scheduled time-sharing with his child.  However, instead of returning the child to the mother at the end of his time-sharing schedule, the father simply left Florida without telling the mother where he or the child were going or when they would be back.  The Lee County Sheriff’s Office then obtained a warrant for the father’s arrest.

A charge of interference with custody of a minor child is based on section 787.03, Florida Statutes.  Below is the text of this statute:

(1)Whoever, without lawful authority, knowingly or recklessly takes or entices, or aids, abets, hires, or otherwise procures another to take or entice, any minor or any incompetent person from the custody of the minor’s or incompetent person’s parent, his or her guardian, a public agency having the lawful charge of the minor or incompetent person, or any other lawful custodian commits the offense of interference with custody and commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2)In the absence of a court order determining rights to custody or visitation with any minor or with any incompetent person, any parent of the minor or incompetent person, whether natural or adoptive, stepparent, legal guardian, or relative of the minor or incompetent person who has custody thereof and who takes, detains, conceals, or entices away that minor or incompetent person within or without the state with malicious intent to deprive another person of his or her right to custody of the minor or incompetent person commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3)A subsequently obtained court order for custody or visitation does not affect application of this section.

(4)It is a defense that:

(a)The defendant had reasonable cause to believe that his or her action was necessary to preserve the minor or the incompetent person from danger to his or her welfare.

(b)The defendant was the victim of an act of domestic violence or had reasonable cause to believe that he or she was about to become the victim of an act of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28, and the defendant had reasonable cause to believe that the action was necessary in order for the defendant to escape from, or protect himself or herself from, the domestic violence or to preserve the minor or incompetent person from exposure to the domestic violence.

(c)The minor or incompetent person was taken away at his or her own instigation without enticement and without purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the minor or incompetent person, and the defendant establishes that it was reasonable to rely on the instigating acts of the minor or incompetent person.

(5)Proof that a person has not attained the age of 18 years creates the presumption that the defendant knew the minor’s age or acted in reckless disregard thereof.

(6)

(a)The offenses prescribed in subsections (1) and (2) do not apply in cases in which a person having a legal right to custody of a minor or incompetent person is the victim of any act of domestic violence, has reasonable cause to believe he or she is about to become the victim of any act of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, or believes that his or her action was necessary to preserve the minor or the incompetent person from danger to his or her welfare and seeks shelter from such acts or possible acts and takes with him or her the minor or incompetent person.

(b)In order to gain the exception conferred by paragraph (a), a person who takes a minor or incompetent person under this subsection must:

1.Within 10 days after taking the minor or incompetent person, make a report to the sheriff’s office or state attorney’s office for the county in which the minor or incompetent person resided at the time he or she was taken, which report must include the name of the person taking the minor or incompetent person, the current address and telephone number of the person and minor or incompetent person, and the reasons the minor or incompetent person was taken.

2.Within a reasonable time after taking a minor, commence a custody proceeding that is consistent with the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, 28 U.S.C. s. 1738A, or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, ss. 61.501-61.542.

3.Inform the sheriff’s office or state attorney’s office for the county in which the minor or incompetent person resided at the time he or she was taken of any change of address or telephone number of the person and the minor or incompetent person.

(c)

1.The current address and telephone number of the person and the minor or incompetent person which are contained in the report made to a sheriff or state attorney under paragraph (b) are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.

2.A sheriff or state attorney may allow an agency, as defined in s. 119.011, to inspect and copy records made confidential and exempt under this paragraph in the furtherance of that agency’s duties and responsibilities.

3.This paragraph is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and is repealed on October 2, 2011, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.

History.—s. 24, ch. 74-383; s. 14, ch. 75-298; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch. 88-244; s. 25, ch. 94-134; s. 25, ch. 94-135; s. 1201, ch. 97-102; s. 1, ch. 2000-231; s. 1, ch. 2000-357; s. 157, ch. 2004-5; s. 1, ch. 2005-89; s. 1, ch. 2006-114; s. 1, ch. 2006-115.

 

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About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Adam B. Cordover is a collaborative family law attorney and managing shareholder of The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A. To learn more about The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A. or to schedule a consultation, call us at 813.443.0615 or visit us online at www.abcfamilylaw.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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2 Responses to Father Flees Florida With Child; Faces Charges of Felony Interference With Custody of Child

  1. Pingback: Father Flees Florida With Child; Faces Charges of Felony … | Child Custody Attorneys

  2. Cheryl Gowin says:

    Good post on the problems created by not following a court order.

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