Parents who divorce often struggle to adapt to a completely different schedule of spending time with their child, once the court approves their custody arrangement or issues one of its own. While those who already have significant conflicts around custody may expect a difficult transition, even parents who intend to keep the process civil and respectful are not always able to make the shift to co-parenting smoothly.
Often, this means that one parent or the other misses out on some of their court-ordered custody time with their child, which is not something to take lightly. While courts do understand that the demands of everyday life do not always fit well with a custody order, these orders are not suggestions for parents to consider. They are legally binding agreements that the courts expect parents to obey.
While life doesn’t fit perfectly into any custody plan all of the time, it is common for one parent’s behavior to affect the other’s custody time, which is known as parenting time interference. Whether this behavior is intentional or not, interference may occur any time that a parent does not receive the full amount of parenting time that their custody order outlines because of the actions or negligence of the other parent.
Protect physical time with your child
There are two distinct types of parenting time interference, direct and indirect. Direct interference involves one parent preventing the other parent from physically spending custody time with their child. Indirect interference may occur if one parent undermines the other parent’s relationship with the child.
A common example of direct interference might involve one parent who keeps running late to exchange the child at an agreed upon time and place. While this may happen to anyone from time to time, that lost time adds up if it becomes a pattern.
Similarly, one parent may refuse to bring a child to a custody exchange or for visitation, or may choose to take a child far away or refuse to exchange custody altogether. If a parent takes drastic actions, they may receive criminal charges such as parental kidnapping.
Protect the relationship with your child
Even if your child’s other parent respects your custody time, they may still work against your relationship with the child. While this is not always as easy to document and prove, relationship and communication interference is still a serious violation. Courts expect parents to honor each other’s rights to have a relationship with their child. Patterns of behavior that undermine the parent-child relationship are not tolerated.
This includes interference such as
- Speaking poorly about the other parent in the presence of the child
- Preventing the other parent from speaking with the child on the phone or through other means
- Instructing the child to spy on the other parent
- Refusing to give the child gifts from the other parent
If you believe that your child’s other parent violates your parenting time rights, don’t hesitate to begin using the tools you have to protect yourself and your child. A good defense to parenting time interference is a strong legal strategy, which examines the specifics of your needs and creates personalized solutions using the strength of the law. With your rights and privileges protected, you can focus on raising the child you love in the way that you see fit.