As a divorced parent, you face many challenges each and every day. Even parents who want to work together peacefully run into conflict, especially during the period of time when the family gets used to a new custody schedule.
Custody orders that a court approves are not flexible suggestions over how parents split their parenting time, but some parents seem to believe that the other parent's time with their child is less important than their own. In the eyes of the court, when one parent keeps the other from enjoying all of their court-ordered parenting time, they are essentially stealing a valuable resource.
Your time with your child is certainly precious, and the time that you miss is time that you will never get back. If you have good reason to believe that your child's other parent steals your parenting time, you should consider all the legal tools you can use to protect your rights and keep your time with your child secure.
Direct and indirect interference
Behavior by one parent that robs the other of parenting time or undermines their relationship with their child may count as direct or indirect parenting time interference. The penalties for these violations range from court-ordered make-up time and possible loss of parenting privileges to criminal charges, in some extreme cases.
Much of the time, one parent is simply behaving badly and needs a firm reminder that the rights of both parents to time with their child are equally valid. Establishing and maintaining this boundary is an important priority for any parent, especially if their child is young and they may have to share custody for many years.
Direct interference occurs when one parent physically keeps another parent from their child during their assigned parenting time or visitation. Of course, if a parent is late to exchange a child because there was an accident on the interstate and they were stuck in traffic, that is beyond their control and not a violation. On the other hand, if a parent is routinely late to exchange custody, they may need a firm reminder that the court expects them to obey the order fully.
Indirect interference may occur even if neither parent misses out on their physical custody or visitation time. Courts recognize that some parents behave badly and attempt to manipulate the other parent's relationship with their child. Behavior that undermines the other parent-child relationship is often considered indirect interference, and can result in significant punishment.
Protect your time
No matter what your circumstances may be, you deserve to enjoy all the time that you are assigned with your child. Be sure to use the legal resources you have to keep these rights secure with a strong legal strategy. You deserve peace of mind to focus on raising the child you love.