Many parents find that it takes some time to get used to the realities of sharing custody of a child. Whether two parents enjoy fairly equal time with a child or one parent retains most privileges, the rights of each parent are important to respect, and violating these rights repeatedly or severely may result in serious consequences. When a parent’s behavior grows from inconvenient or frustrating actions to obstruction, courts may find the parent guilty of parenting time interference.
If found guilty, a parent may lose custody privileges, face a court order to make up lost custody days, or may even face criminal charges in some extreme cases. Many parents choose to address these issues directly by including specific language in their parenting agreement that prohibits such behavior and outlines specific remedies if a parent violates the others rights.
If you suspect your child’s other parent of interfering with your physical time with the child or your ability to foster a parent-child relationship, then you may have grounds for legal action. If you need specific legal guidance, an experienced family law attorney can help you assess your circumstances fairly and identify the tools you have available to protect your rights as a parent.
Parenting time interference may occur either directly or indirectly. Direct interference occurs if one parent acts in a way that prevents the other parent from physically spending time with their child.
If, for instance, one parent is incarcerated, the other parent may repeatedly cancel visitation time with a child. This is a very direct form of parenting time interference. A more extreme case might be a parent who takes the child across state lines without the knowledge of the other parent and refuses to return the child.
However, direct interference can be more subtle. A parent who is routinely late to drop a child off also commits direct parenting time interference.
Many parents choose indirect forms of interference, which may not affect the parent’s physical time with the child, but does affect the relationship with the child or the parent’s ability to communicate with the child. This may take many forms, and is often more difficult to prove.
Indirect interference might include a parent who won’t allow a child to speak to the other parent on the phone or on a computer. It may also include refusing to give a child a gift from the other parent, speaking poorly of the other parent in the child’s presence or asking a child to report back on the other parent’s behavior.
Parents who face interference from the other parent should not hesitate to take the issue before the court to protect their rights and the best interests of the child.