When two parents divorce, the complications of sharing custody of one or more children can prove very difficult to navigate. Even for parents who want to work together to create a good life for their children, the frustrations of sharing parenting time with a person with whom they no longer want to share a life is never easy to manage.
In most cases, even well-planned custody and parenting agreements get off to a bumpy start. This is normal for families. However, if the actions of either parent violate the rights of the other parent, courts may take action to keep the matter civil and fair.
Many parents do not realize that parenting time interference is illegal, and in extreme cases, may even lead to criminal charge. Less serious breaches may still result in loss of parenting privileges by the offending parent, or court-ordered remedies to protect both parents' involvement in the child's life.
If you suspect that your child's other parent interferes with your parenting time, you may have a number of options available to protect your rights. An experienced attorney is an excellent resource for parents who face parenting-time conflicts, helping you assess your circumstances and understand the legal tools you can use to protect your rights and parenting privileges.
Parenting time interference may take either indirect or direct forms. Direct interference occurs when one parent takes actions that prevent the other parent from physically spending time with the child. A very extreme example of this might mean a parent takes a child to some out-of-state location without he knowledge of the other parent and refuses to return the child. Depending on the other details of such a scenario, this may constitute parental kidnapping.
A more common example of direct parenting time interference may include a parent who repeatedly fails to show up to transfer a child to the other parent at the agreed-upon meeting place and time. In some cases, this not malicious, but rather a by-product of poor time management or misaligned priorities. Still, the rights of the violated parent are worth protecting.
Indirect interference is far more common among parents sharing custody. It may occur whenever a parent disrupts or attempts to control the communication or relationship-building efforts between the other parent and the child.
Refusing to allow a child to speak with the other parent on the phone may count as indirect interference, for example, as does refusing to give a child a gift from the other parent.
It is worth noting that parents who attempt to manipulate the other parent's relationship with the child by speaking poorly about him or her in the presence of the child are also interfering. Indirect interference also includes one parent asking the child to report back on the other parent's behavior. Courts do not approve of this behavior and may punish the offending parent significantly.
If you believe you suffer from parenting time interference, be sure to carefully examine your circumstances to determine a wise course of action you can take to protect yourself and your child from this unfair treatment.