All divorced parents who face the difficult task of sharing custody usually need time to adjust to the schedule and the realities of sharing parenting privileges and responsibilities. Initially, it is common for some parents to struggle to adhere to a court-ordered custody arrangement, and may take several months to get into a sustainable pattern.
During this period of adjustment, conflicts between parents are common, but it is wise to take a long-term view of the situation and focus on the best interests of the child rather than the behavior of another parent. If you face this difficult task, you may need to consciously choose to grant grace to your child's other parent and encourage the individual to do the same while you figure out how to make a life for your child both together and separately.
However, some parental behavior surrounding custody is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. Actions that one parent takes to obstruct the other parent's physical time with their child or to manipulate or control the other parent's relationship with the child usually qualify as parental time interference, which is a serious matter in the eyes of the court.
Direct parenting time interference implies that one parent keeps the other parent from spending time with the child, in violation of his or her court-ordered custody or visitation rights. This is not always intentional or malicious, but it is still legally actionable in many instances. A parent found guilty of direct parenting interference may need to make up visitation or custody days elsewhere, or may face criminal charges if the actions are severe enough.
In many instances of direct parenting time interference, one parent may retain primary custody of the child while the other parent has limited guaranteed visitation or custody privileges. Even if a parent has limited privileges, such as a parent serving jail time, his or her rights are still important to uphold. If one parent refuses to bring a child to see the other parent for a court-ordered visitation during the incarceration, this usually constitutes direct interference.
This violation may be more subtle as well. Direct interference may occur if a parent repeatedly shows up late to exchange a child for shared custody, for instance. Although this may occur because of poor time management skills rather than malicious intent, it is still a violation of the other parent's rights.
Indirect interference occurs when one parent obstructs the other's communication with the child or manipulates their relationship with the child. This may include refusing to give the child time on the phone with the other parent or asking the child to report back on the other parent's behavior after visitation.
Protecting yourself against this behavior is crucial to building a healthy, happy life for the child you love. Don't hesitate to use all the legal tools you have available to prevent this kind of behavior from your child's other parent and protect your rights and privileges.