The time you have with your child is precious, especially after divorce. Even if you and your child’s other parent divided up your custody time fairly evenly, you may still miss important moments in your child’s life if you do not carefully protect the custody time that the court awarded you.

Too many parents push the boundaries of a custody order’s flexibility, either because they are not good at time management, or because they want to see what exactly you will tolerate. Unfortunately, this behavior is far too common, and courts take it seriously. If your spouse interferes directly or indirectly with the time you spend with your child, they may suffer consequences, and potentially even lose some of their parenting privileges.

When does a parent interfere directly?

Direct parenting time interference occurs when one parent deprives the other parent of the court-ordered custody time they should enjoy with their child. Does your child’s other parent routinely cancel custody days or show up late to exchange your child? This may qualify.

Some forms of direct interference may result in criminal charges, if one parent kidnaps the child. Should one parent take the child out of the state or country without the other parent’s knowledge, it may qualify as parental kidnapping. In some instances, the parent who takes the child far away must also obtain the other parent’s permission to do so. Failure to comply with these requirements may turn a fun vacation into parental kidnapping, and may result in criminal charges and loss of parenting privileges.

Interfering indirectly

Even if one parent does not keep the other parent from enjoying custody time with their child, there are plenty of ways to interfere.

When one parent makes it difficult for the other parent to build a relationship with their child or communicate with them, this may qualify as indirect interference. For instance, one parent may refuse to give their child letters or gifts from the other parent, or may try to keep them from communicating on the phone or other device.

Similarly, parents are not allowed to speak negatively about each other in the presence of their children. Courts take this behavior seriously and will take action if one parent or the other refuses to behave fairly.

Should you experience any of this behavior, take time to consider your legal options. You should not endure poor treatment from your child’s other parent, both for your sake and for the sake of your child. Use the full strength of the law to keep your priorities secure while you work to create the best life you can for the child you love.