Parents who are new to sharing custody of their child often have a hard time adjusting to these changes, no matter how much they hope to keep things amicable with the other parent. Some parents take this struggle too far, however, and significantly impact the custody time of the other parent. This violates their custody order in the process.
Courts do not consider custody orders flexible, and neither should parents. This is not to say that parents never have unexpected conflicts, which all of us encounter, but that parents must understand that their custody order is legally binding.
When one or both parents violate the custody order, courts tend to issue proportional punishment. This may range from mandatory make-up days for missed custody time to criminal charges in some extreme cases.
If you have reasons to believe that your child's other parent does not respect your time with your child or attempts to undermine and control your and your child's relationship, then you should examine your legal options. You may have grounds to file a complaint with the court and recover your custody time, protecting your rights and dignity as a parent.
Direct and indirect interference
Parents who interfere with another parent's custody or relationship do so either directly or indirectly. Both direct and indirect parenting time interference are serious, but they take many different forms.
Direct interference involves behavior or negligence by one parent that prevents the other parent from spending their court-appointed time with their child. In some cases, this means that one parent is constantly running late or forgetting about scheduled custody transfers. Even if the violation is unintentional or negligent, it still violates the other parent's rights to time with the child.
More concerning forms of direct parenting time interference occur when one parent refuses to transfer custody at all, possibly taking the child with them across state lines or out of the country. Certain forms of this behavior may count as parental kidnapping, which may result in felony charges.
On the other hand, one parent may not keep the other from physically spending time with their child, but may still attempt to manipulate the other parent's relationship with the child. This includes many types of behavior, including but not limited to:
- Refusing to give a child gifts from the other parent
- Keeping the child and parent from communicating over the phone or through text
- Coercing the child to spy on the other parent during shared custody time
Indirect interference also prohibits parents from speaking poorly about each other in the presence of the child. Courts understand that this behavior is toxic and is not a part of healthy parenting, in most cases.
Protecting your time begins now
Whether your child's other parent violates your rights in extreme ways or subtly, your rights deserve defending. Do not put off legal action to protect these rights.