Parenting a child with a person you no longer live with is often a very difficult process. Most parents, at one time or another, find that it is not easy to abide by a court-ordered custody plan. When these tensions arise, it is often tempting for one parent or the other to disobey the court order or otherwise attempt to manipulate or obstruct the other parent’s time with the child.
While very few parents navigate this difficult terrain with complete success, certain behaviors may constitute parenting time interference, a fairly serious violation in the eyes of the court. If a parent does commit parenting time interference, he or she may lose parenting time or privileges, or, in extreme cases, may even face criminal charges.
You may face some of these frustrations with your child’s other parent, either in large or small ways. Depending on the nature of the interference you experience, there are legal remedies you can consider to protect your rights and the rights of the child you love.
Direct and indirect interference
Family courts consider parenting time interference a very serious matter. In general, this offense may take one of two forms, as either direct or indirect interference. Direct interference generally entails one parent keeping the other parent from physically spending time with the child. This can mean repeatedly failing to show up on time to transfer the child between parents, or may include larger violations like canceling visitation or refusing to return a child after a period of custody concludes.
Indirect interference is much more inclusive, and may apply to any behavior on the part of one parent meant to manipulate or obstruct the relationship of the other parent and the child. This includes refusing to allow the child to communicate with the other parent on the phone or through other means, or coercing the child to spy on the other parent.
In some cases, merely speaking poorly of the other parent in front of the child counts as indirect interference.
Addressing parenting time interference
If you are still in the negotiating phase of a divorce or parenting plan, you can consider adding language to your parenting agreement that specifically disallows speaking ill of each other in front of your child, as well as other types of interference. For many parents, simply adding this language and identifying a few behaviors that cause trouble is helpful.
If you have further struggles keeping your parenting time fair, an experienced attorney can help you assess your circumstances and build a strong solution that keeps your rights and priorities secure.