Nearly all parents who face the difficult task of sharing custody and parenting privileges find that it is difficult to follow their custody order or parenting plan to the letter all the time. If you and your child’s other parent experience similar conflicts, rest assured that you are in the company of thousands or even millions of parents experiencing similar frustrations.
However, there is a difference between the occasional disruption and severe or ongoing behavior from one parent that obstructs the parental rights of the other. In some cases, the severity or repeated nature of the disruption warrants legal action.
Parenting time interference matters to courts, and a parent who commits this violation may suffer a range of consequences. If you believe that you may suffer from parenting time interference, an experienced attorney can assess your own circumstances to determine the severity of the violation and an appropriate response that keeps your rights secure while considering the needs of the child you love.
Direct and indirect interference
Depending on the nature of the behavior one parent presents, parenting time interference may be either direct or indirect. Direct interference involves one parent’s actions that physically keep the other parent from spending court-ordered time with a child.
On the extreme end, this could include parental kidnapping, if the parent takes the child and leaves the state or country, but milder forms like repeatedly failing to show up to exchange a child at the appropriate time. Although this may owe more to poor time management than malicious intent, the time a court orders for parents to spend with their children is important to uphold.
Indirect interference covers a broader range of issues, from one parent speaking poorly about the other parent in front of the child to a parent refusing to give the child the phone to speak with the other parent.
These violations focus on obstructing communication and relationship with the child, which is both parents’ right.
It is often wise to put specific language into a parenting agreement that forbids any kind of obstructionist behavior and outlines specific remedies if one parent does violate the other’s rights. Successful co-parenting is about establishing expectations and focusing on the best interests of the child rather than the differences between parents.
Your child deserves the best life that both you and his or her other parent can offer, even though you are not raising the child in the same home together. Be mindful to protect your child’s needs and rights as you consider how to protect your own parenting rights from unfair treatment.