Learning to work with your child's other parent in a custody arrangement is rarely a simple process. In most cases, even well-meaning parents find it difficult to operate within the guidelines of their custody arrangement entirely. Also, finding a reliable pattern for sharing parenting time can take a number of months before both parents get comfortable with the arrangement. Many facets may affect this process, such as the age and needs of your child, and any ongoing conflicts between you and your child's other parent.
While it is certainly normal to experience some conflict when sharing custody, some intentional or even negligent behavior from either parent is simply unacceptable. If one parent takes action or refuses to take action in a way that affects the other parent's court-appointed time with a child, the court may see this as parenting time interference, which is a serious violation.
You may suspect your child's other parent of interfering with your parenting time. If so, gathering documentation of these violations and assessing them carefully may reveal that you have legal grounds to enforce your rights, using the strength of the law to put a stop to it. An experienced attorney can guide you throughout this process and help you make sure that you fully understand your rights while you fight to protect them.
Direct Parental Interference
This type of violation may come in direct and indirect forms. Direct interference means that one parent's actions or negligence deny the other parent physical time with their child. This may be as simple as repeatedly mixing up days when you were supposed to exchange the child, or habitually showing up several hours late at the agreed-upon time to trade custody of the child. Even though these could be honest mistakes and not always intentional or malicious, it still denies the other parent one's time with the child.
Another example, on the extreme end, is a parent who takes a child during his or her custody time and then simply refuses to return the child to the other parent. This may even rise to the level of parental kidnapping.
Indirect interference covers a much larger group of behaviors. Indirect interference affects the parents' time with the child or the parents' ability to build and maintain a relationship with the child.
This might include actions like one parent refusing to allow a child to video conference with or take phone calls from the other parent. It also includes asking the child to spy on the other parent or report back on the other parent's behavior or relational status. All of these behaviors are considered interference and are not allowed.
Protecting Your Rights
If you believe that your child's other parent has been interfering with your custody rights, don't hesitate to use the legal tools you have available to put a stop to this. If you have court-ordered custody privileges, you should not have to forfeit them.
Be sure to take this matter seriously. Habits fallen into now can set the tone for the time you have left to raise the child you love. You want to protect yourself and your rights for years to come.