We’ve discussed the problem of people who refuse to allow their co-parent to have the visitation with their child that a court has granted them. This is considered direct interference in parenting time. Of course, the parent whose visitation rights are being denied can take action in court.
Indirect parenting time interference may be more difficult to prove. However, it can be every bit as detrimental to the parent-child bond. Therefore, parents need to be able to recognize it and take legal action when necessary.
One example of indirect interference is not allowing children to communicate with their co-parent. Parents may not let their kids call or accept calls from their co-parent. They may “forget” to tell their co-parent about school or extracurricular activities in which the kids are participating.
Disparaging a child’s parent in front of or directly to them is also a form of interference. In its most advanced state, this is called parental alienation syndrome. Parents sometimes lie about or disparage a co-parent to such a degree that they “program” their child to dislike or refuse to be around their other parent. This can be seriously damaging to the parent-child bond and potentially to a child’s mental health. It’s considered by some experts to be a form of child abuse.
If your co-parent is interfering with your time and your relationship with your children, there are steps you can take. If you’ve been denied time with your child that’s granted under your custody/visitation order, the other parent may be ordered to make that up to you.
You may also need to make changes in your court order, such as adding language requiring communication with your child when they’re with their other parent or forbidding either parent to speak ill about the other in front of the child. Parents who violate these terms may have to pay fines or face other legal consequences.
Certainly, it’s best when parents can work out these issues on their own, perhaps with their attorneys, rather than head back to court. However, in some cases, the parents’ relationship is so toxic, at least in the early stages after a break-up, that it’s in everyone’s best interests — particularly the children’s — to codify these matters. Your Arizona family law attorney can provide guidance on the best way to protect your parental rights and your relationship with your children.