In the months and years following a divorce, many parents find it difficult to know when to protect their parenting time and when to practice flexibility. Some parents allow too much flexibility in their shared parenting time and miss valuable experiences with their children, while others may not allow for events beyond the other parent's control.
Most parents understand that the time they spend with their children is precious and once it is gone, they cannot replace it. Protecting parenting rights is important, especially if one parent's behavior takes away time from the other parent. Depending on the circumstances and impact on parenting time, bad behavior like this may require the help of the court.
Types of interference
Parents interfere with each other's relationship with their child in two ways. When one parent deprives the other parent of physical time spent with their child, they commit direct parenting time interference. Of course, there are some exceptions. If one parent cannot meet the other to exchange custody because of something out of their control, like a car accident or force of nature, it is not interference. If a regular pattern of lateness or other conflicts develops, then the other parent may want to consider their legal options.
If one parent acts drastically and refuses to cooperate with a custody order, or takes a child across state lines without the other parent's knowledge or consent, the courts may take serious action, potentially resulting in criminal charges.
A parent may also interfere with another parent's relationship with their child through manipulation or undermining the other parent. This behavior does not necessarily steal away physical parenting time, but weakens the parent-child relationship.
For instance, if one parent completely shuts the other parent out of the child's life and doesn't allow the child to speak on the phone or communicate with the other parent, a court may consider this indirect interference. Similarly, if one parent speaks negatively about the other parent to the child or where the child can hear them, this may also count as indirect interference.
You must protect your own time
If your child's other parent takes time or quality from your relationship with your child, it is a serious violation of your rights. Even if this behavior is not malicious, your parenting time still suffers. Protecting your parenting time is one of the most important steps you can take toward building and maintaining a strong relationship with the child you love for years to come.