Dealing with co-parenting a child after a divorce can be one of the most challenging aspects of ending a marriage. Courts attempt to look after the best interests of the child when drafting custody agreements.
However, sometimes parents interfere with these agreements.
What is custody interference?
Parents who are unhappy with a custody agreement or want to get back at an ex-spouse may intentionally disrupt the time their ex has with the children. There are several ways this happens:
- Refusing to allow children to visit with the other parent during the designated time
- Leaving the state or country without the other parent’s consent
- Trying to turn a child against the other parent by speaking negatively about their ex
- Preventing a child from contacting the other parent
- Failing to return the child to the other parent at the designated time
Not all actions that disrupt the custody agreement are interference. For example, it is OK to take a child out of the country if the other parent agrees.
What are the consequences of custody interference?
In some cases, parents may face criminal charges. A parent who is guilty of interference may lose custody or visitation rights or the court may modify the custody agreement to reduce the amount of time that the parent has with the child. Courts may also order parents to complete counseling. The court may only allow the offending parent to have supervised visits with the child.
Because of the potential for severe consequences, it is important for parents who are not happy with a custody agreement to pursue a modification of the agreement through the court system, rather than take matters into their own hands.