Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Protecting your court-ordered parenting time after divorce

Making the transition from sharing a home with the parent of your child and raising the child in separate homes after divorce is rarely an easy process. Even in instances where the parents intend to work together to build a stable, loving parenting environment for the child, there are usually some pitfalls along the way, and few parents follow their parenting or custody plans to the letter all the time.

For most parents, following a custody order is inconvenient at least some of the time, and it is easy to start pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior if either side lets the other take advantage of the situation. It is important to understand that this behavior may qualify as parenting time interference, a violation that courts take very seriously.

Parents who commit parenting time interference against another parent may face punishment through loss of parenting privileges, mandatory make up days for missed custody time, or even criminal charges for severe enough violations.

What is parenting time interference?

In simple terms, parenting time interference occurs whenever one parent's actions or negligence prevents the other parent from spending court-ordered time with their child, or when one parent attempts to manipulate the other parent's relationship with the child or undermine it.

This covers a broad range of behavior, so it is always wise to make sure you understand what the law has to say about your own circumstances before making any strong accusations against your child's other parent.

Direct interference occurs when one parent keeps the other parent from physically spending their custody time with their child. This may include arranged visitation that the other parent cancels, or may refer to the time lost because one parent routinely shows up late to drop off a child to exchange custody.

Both of these are forms of direct parenting time interference, but they are unlikely to end in criminal charges. If, however, one parent takes their child and exits the state or the country entirely, then this may qualify as parental kidnapping, which is a serious crime.

Parents who manipulate children against another parent also commit indirect parenting time interference. This category includes many types of behavior, most of which boils down to obstructing another parent's communication and relationship building with their child. For instance, a parent may tell a child to report back to them after time at the other parent's house, or may speak poorly of the other parent in the child's presence. These are all forms of indirect parenting time interference.

Asserting and protecting your parental rights

If you suspect that your child's other parent interferes with your parenting time, either directly or indirectly, it is wise to build a legal strategy to protect your parental rights. Should you choose not to assert these rights and defend them, the other parent may simply continue pushing the boundaries further and further. Make sure to keep the time with your child protected, for your sake and for the sake of your family.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Needham, MA 02494

Phone: 508-507-8742
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