Many parents struggle to navigate sharing parenting time and other privileges after a divorce, often moving focus from their child to their own conflicts. On a personal level, this behavior affects children deeply and may impact their ability to form and maintain relationships in the future. On a practical level, parents who act out and push the boundaries of acceptable behavior may face legal consequences for violating another parent’s rights.
If you received a custody order after your divorce or separation, it outlines the time that you legally may spend with your child. When your child’s other parent keeps you from enjoying this court-ordered time or undermines your relationship with your child, this may count as parenting time interference.
Your rights to time with your child
Custody orders are not suggestions from the court. You and your child’s other parent may not divide up time with your child at your convenience. The court expects both parents to obey the order without much variation.
Of course, emergencies happen from time to time, or one parent may experience circumstances beyond their control that make obeying the court order impossible. In these instances, it is wise to use your judgment and remain flexible for the sake of your family. However, if you recognize a pattern of behavior that steals your parenting time, you should not tolerate it. Courts take this matter seriously, and you should as well.
Direct parenting time interference occurs when one parent physically stops the other print from spending their parenting time with their child. In an extreme instance, this may involve parental kidnapping, which can result in criminal charges.
Your rights to your own relationship with your child
Even if a parent does not steal another parent’s physical time with their child, they can still act in ways that weaken the other parent’s relationship with the child. This is a broad category. It is not possible to list all of the examples of this behavior here, but it can include things as diverse as blocking communications between a child and parent, refusing to give a child gifts from the other parent or saying negative things about the other parent when the child can hear them.
Your relationship with your child is one of the most precious things that you have, and you must keep it protected. With a clear understanding of your rights and the legal tools that you have available, you can assess the situation fairly and build a strategy to protect your parenting time. Make sure to act soon, for your sake and for the sake of the child you love.