Many parents struggle to find a healthy, comfortable balance while raising their child separately, and, in many cases, one or both parents may exhibit unacceptable behavior that violates their parenting agreement. Some of the most common violations occur when one parent keeps the other from enjoying time with their child, known as direct parenting time interference.
However, parents may also interfere with each other’s rights indirectly, without affecting the amount of time spent with their child. Indirect parenting interference occurs when a parent disrupts communication between the other parent and their child or attempts to manipulate the child against the other parent.
In times of high stress or great frustration, these actions can feel like normal human behavior, but courts do not see it this way. In fact, if a court sees evidence of a parent indirectly interfering with another parent’s rights, the offending parent may lose privileges or face other legal consequences.
What counts as indirect interference?
It is not always easy to define what is or is not indirect parenting time interference, because human beings are endlessly creative, especially when it comes to things they care most about, like their child.
In broad strokes, indirect parenting interference includes behavior that undermines another’s parent-child relationship or creates barriers between the other parent communicating with the child. This may include refusing to let the other parent speak on the phone or message the child, or withholding gifts or letters that the other parent sends the child.
Indirect interference also includes speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child. It may also include instructing the child to spy on the other parent and report back after the child spends custody time with the other parent. This is a difficult space to navigate, because many parents have legitimate concerns about the well-being and safety of their child when they are in the other parent’s custody.
Still, courts do not typically show favor to parents who act outside of their parenting agreement, and may punish a parent who violates their agreement by removing some of their parenting privileges or handing down some other legal consequence.
Protecting your time with your child
Ultimately, the time you spend with your child is not only important to you, it is important for the child you love. Co-parenting presents many issues that are difficult to navigate, so a clear understanding of the legal issues at hand is always wise.
A strong legal strategy is a good way to help you protect your child and your parenting rights, using the strength of the law and the tools the court provides to keep your relationship with your child’s other parent civil and productive, while keeping your rights secure.