In almost all cases, parents have difficulty getting used to sharing custody. This is a normal experience shared by thousands of families throughout the country who face court orders that do not fit comfortably into their new lives.
However, some parents' behavior surrounding child custody and sharing parenting privileges moves beyond frustrating and into legally actionable. In these cases, that behavior may cost them dearly, if a court determines that they committed parenting time interference.
Parenting time interference can take many forms, and should not be tolerated. If you believe that your child's other parent interferes with your time as a parent, don't hesitate to assess your legal rights and protect them. Defining and enforcing the boundaries you establish with your child's other parent is essential for all parties in the long run, and helps create a more stable environment for the child you love.
Direct interference and indirect interference
Depending on the severity of the behavior, parenting time interference may be direct or indirect. Direct interference includes instances where one parent keeps the other from physically spending time with the child. This may include a parent who refuses to bring a child to visit the other parent in incarceration, or may be as simple as a parent who is repeatedly late to exchange the child at an agreed time.
An extreme form of this might mean one parent takes the child and goes to another state without the other parent's knowledge or permission. This may constitute parental kidnapping, and can result in the offending parent facing criminal charges and jail time.
Indirect interference is much broader in scope. This generally includes any behavior that seeks to control or manipulate communication with a child or time spent building a relationship with the child. If one parent refuses to give the child a gift from the other parent, for instance, or refuses to let the other parent speak to the child on a phone, this may count as indirect interference.
It may also include manipulative behavior, such as pushing a child to spy on the parent, or talking poorly of the other parent in the presence of the child.
Remedies to parenting time interference
Whether you believe another parent is already interfering with your parenting time, or you simply want to avoid this frustration, it is always good to consider adding some language to your parenting agreement that prohibits this behavior. You may even include specific instructions about how to address certain violations, so that both parents have the same expectations. Should you find that you need guidance, an experienced family law attorney can help you build a strong case and protect your parental rights.