Parents who choose to divorce face some difficult decisions about how to raise their children, and these decisions may have a huge impact on other areas of the divorce process. Any parent who has experienced divorce firsthand knows that when children are involved, things can get complicated and difficult quickly. Protecting children from these conflicts is important.
As a divorce progresses, parents typically have the opportunity to present the court with a parenting plan and custody arrangement that they create. When parents reach these agreements fairly, they are usually the best option for creating a good home for their children. However, if parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, a court will take the matter out of their hands and issue a custody order it believes represents the child's best interests.
If you and your child's other parent choose to divorce, make sure that you understand the rights you have as a parent and how you can protect them with a strong legal strategy. This is particularly important in relation to parenting time with your child, which is irreplaceable once it is gone.
Direct and indirect interference
Once a divorce finalizes, parents who still hold resentment or disdain for each other often push boundaries to determine how they can punish each other in small ways. In many cases, this behavior violates their parenting plan and custody agreement, and may even lead to loss of parental privileges or criminal charges.
Direct interference may happen any time one parent keeps the other parent from enjoying all of their court ordered parenting time with their child. Some parents may switch custody days without notice or constantly show up late to transfer custody, for instance. Even though these conflicts arise regularly in our daily lives, if lateness or inconsistency becomes a pattern, it is worth examining.
Indirect interference may occur even if both parents follow the physical custody schedule flawlessly. Indirect interference refers to manipulation tactics or seeking to control the other parent's relationship with a child. Common indirect interference includes talking negatively about the other parent while the child is present or refusing to allow the child and the other parent to communicate on the phone or through other devices.
Protecting your rights
It is always a good idea to examine your parenting plan, if you have one established. Typically, these include language that specifically forbids manipulative or destructive behavior, and may also outline proposed punishments if one or both parents violate the agreement.
If you do not yet have a parenting plan, make sure to include specific language that keeps your rights secure while ensuring that your child has everything they need for a healthy, safe upbringing.