The strain of divorce affects all parents differently, and some handle the experience more gracefully than others. In the months and years following a divorce between parents, it is common for some to experience difficulty obeying a custody order, and they may test the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Sometimes this behavior occurs because a parent finds it difficult to remain organized and does not operate on others’ schedules well. In other cases, one parent may act out to punish the other, or may use their child as leverage to get something they want.

Courts understand that it is human nature to act in these ways, at least for some individuals. When this behavior is bad enough to significantly violate a custody order, courts may punish the offending parent with loss of parental privileges, forced make-up days for lost custody time and possibly criminal charges. This behavior is known as parenting time interference.

Direct parenting time interference

Direct interference may occur if one parent’s actions keep the other parent from enjoying all of the parenting time that their custody order requires. Custody orders are not loose suggestions of how parents may share time with their child when it is convenient. Courts do not have much patience for this behavior.

If a parent faces an unexpected emergency and cannot exchange custody at a certain time, this is not generally considered interference. However, if a parent ignores custody arrangements and constantly has conflicts over following the parenting time schedule, this may qualify as interference.

Indirect interference

A parent does not have to physically deprive the other parent of time with the child to interfere with their parenting time. Courts acknowledge that interference can take more subtle forms, such as refusing to allow the child and the other parent to communicate on the phone, or one parent saying negative things about the other parent when the child can hear them.

Behavior that undermines the other parent’s relationship with the child may also qualify as indirect parenting time interference, and is just as serious.

If you experience any of these behaviors or believe that your child’s other parent interferes with your parenting time in some other way, you should carefully review your legal options. Your court-ordered time with your child is an important right to protect, and the sooner you take action, the sooner you may focus on the child you love, leaving unnecessay drama behind you.