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Protecting your parenting time with your child is crucial

There are few things as precious and important to protect as your time with your child. For parents who share custody or visitation privileges with another parent, this is not always as simple as one might hope, especially if the other parent's behavior complicates the matter.

While it is certainly wise to choose your battles carefully when dealing with your child's other parent, you must protect your rights to time with your child when you observe the other parent obstructing that time. This can happen many ways, but all of them add up to undermining the court-ordered time you spend with your child or preventing you from enjoying that time at all.

If you know or suspect that your child's other parent obstructs your parenting time, you may need to take legal action to protect your rights and compel him or her to abandon this behavior and participate fairly in your co-parenting arrangement.

Direct interference

When a parent acts in a way that obstructs your time with your child, this may qualify as direct parenting time interference. In the eyes of the court, this could potentially result in criminal charges if the behavior is severe. Allegations of parental kidnapping might be made if a parent takes the child to another state or country without the permission and knowledge of the other parent. Parental kidnapping could also apply if the other parent simply refuses to return the child when it is time to transfer custody.

However, less obvious instances may qualify as direct interference. These might include parents who do not abide by the agreed-upon custody schedules and those who constantly change custody dates to their advantage. A further instance may arise not out of maliciousness but poor time-management skills — the other parent fails to show up on time to pick up or drop off the child. While we all experience difficulties from time to time — and it is wise to extend mercy when it is needed — you should not allow your child's other parent to take advantage of your goodwill.

Indirect interference

Indirect interference does not prevent a parent from physically spending time the child, but rather undermines the time that the child and parent do spend together. It may also involve obstructing a noncustodial parent's communication with the child while the child is with the custodial parent.

Generally speaking, courts to do not allow parents to keep their children from communicating with or receiving gifts and messages from either parent. Similarly, courts do not allow parents to speak negatively about each other in the presence of the child or coerce the child to spy on the other parent.

If you believe that your child's other parent obstructs your parenting time, take stock of the legal solutions that you have available and act quickly to protect your own rights and the best interests of your child .

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