As a father, you know that the time you spend with your child is the most precious time that you have. This can make sharing custody of your child difficult, especially if their other parent does not respect your parenting time. It is certainly normal for most parents to experience some trouble adjusting to sharing custody, so don’t be surprised if you hit some bumps in the road, particularly in the first several months.
However, if the other parent’s behavior deprives you of your court-ordered time with your child, you may need to defend your rights with the strength of the law.
Parenting time interference is serious to family courts, whether it is intentional or unintentional. Don’t put off dealing with these frustrations, or else they may become a pattern of behavior that is difficult to overcome. A strong legal strategy helps ensure that you understand the legal tools you have available, keeping your rights and priorities protected along the way.
What is direct interference?
If your child’s other parent behaves in a way that physically keeps you from enjoying the court-ordered time with your child that you deserve, this typically qualifies as direct parenting time interference. Many parents assume that this only applies to extreme examples like parental kidnapping, but it is broader in scope.
If one parent routinely shows up late to exchange custody, the lateness adds up. These are minutes and hours that you cannot get back with your child, and they do accumulate over time.
Parental kidnapping is also direct interference, and may even result in criminal charges against the offending parent. If you believe that your child’s other parent is guilty of parental kidnapping, you need to understand your legal rights and make a plan of action immediately.
Not all parenting time interference involves physically preventing a parent from spending time with their child. If one parent gets in the way of the other parent’s communication or relationship-building with their child, this can count as indirect interference.
This category covers a broader range of behavior, and courts do not look kindly on parents who engage in this behavior. A parent who indirectly interferes with the other may avoid putting the child on the phone to speak, or may refuse to give the child gifts and letters from the other parent. Likewise, indirect interference can include simply speaking poorly of the other parent in the child’s presence.
When couples create a parenting agreement, it should include language that expressly forbids this type of behavior. If, on reviewing your own parenting agreement, you find that it doesn’t contain this language, consider modifying the agreement.
However you choose to proceed, you must have a strong plan of action. Your rights to time with your child are among the most important rights that you have, and deserve your full attention to defend them.