Child custody exchanges can seem like a battlefield full of hidden mines. Emotions run high, the children are often upset or have difficulty adjusting from one parent to the other, and it’s not uncommon for even something as small as a parent being late to set off an altercation. However, in some more serious cases, a parent or other guardian, such as a grandparent, may refuse to return the child altogether, which can result in police intervention as the following example shows.
The actions of a Florida police officer have gone viral after a member of a church took a video of police interrupting a church service in an attempt to facilitate a child custody exchange. According to reports, the father of a 13-year-old girl contacted police after the girl’s grandfather did not return her after a visitation. The father had found out that the child was currently with her grandparents at a Florida church, and officers accompanied the father to the church to get his daughter.
According to police, the officer was originally waiting outside for the child’s grandfather, who is the reverend for the church, but when he did not respond to her attempts to contact him, she went inside the church. The members apparently were angry at the interruption in the service, began to videotape the encounter and claim the officer did not have the right to interrupt religious proceedings.
The police department has maintained that the officer followed protocol throughout the ordeal, and the child was eventually returned to her father. While this may seem like an extreme case, failure to return a child after a visitation is a direct violation of the court’s custody order and can lead to severe consequences.
Source: USA Today, “Cop interrupts church service for custody call,” Hana Frenette, Sep. 09, 2015