Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. After custody is made official in court, if the other parent refuses to give the child to the other parent during their court ordered time what are the legal options? Can cops never interfere even if there is court paperwork that says where the child has to be?
Dear Juneau Resident,
There is a process by which a judge can authorize police involvement in enforcing a civil decision like child custody. The wronged party can go before the court once custody is violated and request a "Writ of Assistance" that will go directly to the police department. This is an instruction from the judge to officers to use force if necessary to do everything from taking custody of children to evicting people.
Officers do not do field interpreting of court orders for obvious reasons. We have no way of confirming if that is the most recent ruling, if the ruling has been altered or is being misrepresented, or if the judge has determined it is in the best interest of the child to be subject to removal by police. An officer isn't going to risk the legal exposure of potentially going hands on with someone and taking a child into custody without knowing the legal bases are covered. The writ raises the possibility that the child will be near and witness force being used on a parent or loved one. It's a big deal to go to this level so judges tend to tread carefully and exhaust other options seeking voluntary compliance before authorizing this step.