Parents who choose to raise a child separately must find a way to effectively share their parenting responsibilities and privileges. They must respect their rights as parents and also keep the best interests of the child the highest priority. In the case of divorce, a court must generally approve a parenting plan and custody arrangement, or create one and hand it down to the parents.
In many instances, parents find that following every aspect of a custody agreement is not entirely convenient to their lifestyle, but these frustrations can smooth out over time. However, some parents' behavior moves well beyond frustration into violations of the other parent's court-approved or court-ordered rights.
When this happens, it can qualify as parenting time interference, which courts frown upon. A parent who severely or repeatedly violates the other's rights may face loss of parenting privileges and authority, or may even face criminal charges, in instances of extreme violation.
2 kinds of interference
Parenting time interference may take either direct or indirect forms. Direct interference occurs when one parent physically prevents the other from enjoying his or her court-approved custody or visitation time with the child. This could mean that the parent repeatedly fails to return a child or drop the child off for visitation at the proper time, or possibly cancels visitation days altogether.
Severe parenting interference can mean parental abduction, where a parent physically takes a child somewhere where the other parent cannot reach them or does not know where they are for significant period of time, especially if the parent and child cross state lines or country borders.
Indirect interference may occur if a parent takes actions that manipulate or obstruct the other parent from communicating with the child or from building a parent-child relationship. If, for instance, a parent refuses to give a child a letter from the other parent or keeps them from spending time video-chatting or talking on the phone, this may constitute interference. Disparaging the other parent in front of the child may also qualify.
Many parents address these struggles during the divorce process, adding passages to their parenting agreement that restrict them from such interference and prescribing punishments if either party does cross this line.
Don't wait to defend your rights
If you believe that your child's other parent violates your rights through parenting time interference, an experienced attorney can assess your circumstances and help you build strategies to keep yourself and the child you love protected from unfair parental behavior.