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Grandfather facing criminal charges in child custody dispute

Child custody cases are among the most emotionally charged and highly contentious legal matters handled by family law attorneys. There are few things that Pennsylvania residents hold more dear than the right to raise their children, and even extended family members can become wrapped up in a bitter child custody dispute. However, as one widely reported case demonstrates, allowing one’s emotions to overrule their reason can lead to serious consequences.

The case involves a father and grandfather who made the decision to interfere with a child custody transfer ordered by a court. Such custody disputes happen across the country every day, but this case made national headlines due to the fact that the grandfather is a police sergeant and is now facing criminal charges in the matter. Both he and the child’s father had a recent court date, and entered a plea of not guilty.

Police assert that the grandfather failed to cooperate when local authorities came to his home in an effort to recover his grandson. A court in a southern state and in the home state of the grandfather had ordered that the child be returned to the care of his mother. However, the paternal family allegedly conspired to keep the 3-year-old boy in their care. The child was recovered shortly after, and returned to his mother. The father and grandfather now face charges of custodial interference, among other related charges.

In the recent hearing, the grandfather entered a plea of not guilty. He will present his case in a future hearing. Meanwhile, he has been placed on paid leave from his position with the Police Department. While it is understandable that a child custody dispute can be incredibly emotional, this case serves as an example of what family members in Pennsylvania and elsewhere should not do in an effort to change a custody determination. By intentionally going against an existing custody order, this grandfather may have severely harmed his chances of having continued access to a grandson he clearly loves.

Source: ctpost.com, “Cop pleads not guilty in child custody case,” Frank Juliano, May 9, 2013