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Your parenting time is worth defending

As you work out the details of sharing parenting time with another parent, you inevitably run into some conflicts. This is perfectly normal, even for parents who hope to keep things amicable or civil between them. For some parents, however, it proves too much to handle, and they resort to unfair tactics while sharing parenting time, causing serious breakdowns in communication between the other parent and the child.

Family courts do not take kindly to this behavior, and may punish it a number of ways. If a court finds a parent guilty of parenting time interference, the court may order the offending parent to give up certain parenting privileges, reorder parenting time, or may even charge the offending parent with criminal charges in an extreme instance.

If your child's other parent obstructs your parenting time with your child, either directly or indirectly, don't wait to begin fighting for a fair response from a family court. You may simply need to remind your child's other parent of the terms of your parenting agreement, but if this is not enough to change the offending behavior, further legal action might be necessary.

Direct and indirect parenting time interference

There are numerous ways one parent may interfere with another's parenting time. In general, courts break this down into direct and indirect interference.

Direct interference generally includes behavior that prevents one parent from physically spending time with a child. If, for instance, one parent repeatedly conceals visitation, or repeatedly shows up late to drop off a child at the agreed up on place, these may qualify as direct interference. Direct interference may also include very extreme actions like taking a child and moving to another state without the other parent's knowledge or permission.

Indirect interference is much broader in its scope. If one parent obstructs the other's communication or relationship building with the child, he or she may commit indirect parenting time interference. This often includes having a child spy on the other parent or even belittling the other parent in the child's presence.

Avoiding interference

Some couples choose to address this issue by including specific language in the parenting agreement that restricts inference specifically and lists the remedies for certain behavior.

Often, parenting time interference is part of a larger, more complex conflict. For instance, if one parent fails to pay child support on time or in full, the receiving parent may try to use parenting time as leverage to compel the other parent to pay owed support.

However, the court does not see these issues as being related. If one parent tries to compel another to pay child support through limiting his or her parenting time, the court is likely to penalize the obstructing parent, not the one who owes support. Child support is the right of the child, not the parent, and must remain separate in parenting conflicts.

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