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Enforcing your parenting time rights after a divorce

When parents choose to divorce, they must find a way to fairly divide many of their most important assets and liabilities, as well as the time they spend with their children. For many people, sharing parenting time with their children is difficult, and can cause enormous conflicts in their family long after the divorce finalizes.

This is certainly understandable, as any parent can tell you that it is difficult to remain present for all of the important milestones in a child's life even when a family is living together in one home. Parents who share parenting time and responsibilities often feel as though they are missing out on seeing their child grow when they share custody. Other parents may disagree strongly with the other parent's child-rearing choices.

In many instances, this strain leads one or both parents into unacceptable behavior, violating the other parents rights and creating possible legal trouble for themselves. If you or your child's other parent acts in a way that steals parenting time from the other or undermines the other's relationship with your child, courts may see this as parenting time interference.

Stealing a parent's time with their child

When a court hands down a custody order, the time that it outlines for each parent to spend with a child is not a suggestion. While we all face unexpected conflicts from time to time, it is important to obey a custody order as closely as possible. Deviating from the custody order, even when both parents agree on a change, can create opportunities for one parent or the other to complain to a family court.

Preventing the other parent of your child from enjoying all of their court-ordered parenting time is known as direct parenting time interference. If one parent does something extreme, such as taking a child out of state or out of the country without the other parent's knowledge or permission, it can lead to parental kidnapping charges. While this is not as common as other types of direct interference, it can result in criminal charges and even jail time.

Manipulation of the other parent's relationship to a child

Stealing parenting time is not the only way that a parent may interfere with another's parenting time rights. Indirect parenting time interference may occur if one parent prevents the other from communicating with their child or if a parent acts in a way that undermines the other's relationship with their child.

This may include many kinds of behavior that weaken the parent-child relationship, such as speaking negatively about the other parent when the child is present. While parents are not required to have a good relationship with each other after divorce, they must allow each other to build and maintain a relationship with their child, even if this only includes occasional visitation rights with specific restrictions.

If you experience direct or indirect forms of parenting time interference, you should document these incidents and consider your legal options. Courts do not approve of interference with another parent's rights, and may hand down significant punishment to the offending party. A strong legal strategy ensures that you have the tools you need to focus on your child's best interests while keeping your rights secure.

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