One of the most difficult aspects of divorce for parents is learning how to respect each other’s boundaries and rights after the divorce finalizes. Without children, a couple may end their marriage and never need to speak again, in some circumstances. However, for parents who divorce, major conflicts may develop if one parent does not respect the other parent’s rights to time with their child.
When a court hands down a custody order or approves a parenting plan, it is important for the parents involved to understand that these are legally binding documents, and violating the terms in them may lead to punishment. Courts refer to this behavior as parenting time interference.
Parenting time interference comes in two forms, direct interference and indirect interference. If you experience disruptive behavior from your child’s other parent, it is wise to look at the situation carefully to understand the rights you have to protect and any violations that may require legal action.
Direct interference occurs when one parent prevents the other parent from enjoying court-ordered time with their child. A mild example may be consistently showing up late to exchange custody. A more extreme example might be one parent taking their child outside of the state or country where they live without the other parent’s knowledge or permission.
Mild direct interference may lead to mild punishment, such as mandatory make up days for missed custody time. Extreme direct interference may result in jail time and fines. Courts take these violations seriously, and parents should as well.
Indirect interference occurs when one parent attempts to weaken the other parent’s relationship with their child through manipulation or through controlling communication. This may include:
- Preventing a parent from speaking on the phone with a child
- Preventing messaging on messaging devices and apps
- Refusing to give a child gifts from the other parent
- Instructing the child to spy on the other partner
- Speaking negatively about the other parent in the presence of the child
These are not the only forms of indirect interference, but they are some of the most common examples. If you suspect that your child’s other parent uses any of the forms of behavior, make sure to protect yourself and your child properly.
Protecting yourself and your child
The time you spend with your child is a precious resource that you cannot recover once you lose it. If your child’s other parent steals your time or undermines your relationship as a whole, they violate one of your most important boundaries.
Be sure to use the full strength of the law to keep your rights as a parent protected, for yourself and also for the child you love.