It can be difficult to get used to sharing custody of your child with their other parent. This applies even for parents who work hard to be fair with each other and the child they both love. Sadly, many parents deal with ongoing frustrations over custody, and may even face parenting time interference from the other party.
Parenting time interference takes many forms, but they all boil down to the same basic principle. If one parent acts in a way that obstructs the other parent's physical time, ability to communicate or to build and maintain a relationship with the child, these actions could qualify as parenting-time interference.
Courts do not usually tolerate this behavior on the part of parents, and may levy significant consequences against parents who commit this kind of interference. Penalties may range from reassignment of parenting privileges to criminal charges for contempt of court that can result in jail time in very extreme cases.
If you suspect your child's other parent is interfering with your relationship and time with your child, you should carefully consider the legal tools you have to fight back against these actions. In many cases, parents who receive legal consequences realize the seriousness of their actions and correct course without further complications.
Direct parenting interference
Parenting time interference may be either direct or indirect. Direct interference includes any behavior that physically prevents a parent and a child from spending court-ordered time together. For instance, a parent who habitually shows up late to drop off a child at a set time obstructs the other parent's time with the child. While this is not necessarily intentional or malicious, it prevents the other parent from enjoying his or her appropriate time with the child.
A more extreme form of parenting-time interference might involve a parent taking the child and leaving the state or country and refusing to return the child at all. This may constitute parental kidnapping, and can result in jail time.
Indirect parenting interference
Even if one parent does not physically prevent the other from spending time with the child, he or she may obstruct the relationship in other ways. If one parent calls to speak with a child on the phone, and the other repeatedly refuses to let the child and parent speak, this may qualify as parenting-time interference.
A parent may also indirectly interfere if he or she asks a child to spy on the other parent, or talks negatively about the other parent in the presence of the child.
Courts handle these issues on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to understand your legal rights as well as the local system that handles these cases. An experienced attorney can help you examine the specifics of your parenting conflict and recommend legal tools you can use to protect your rights as a parent and create the best life you can for your child.