When parents separate or divorce, it can take months or even years to learn how to work together to raise their child and respect each other’s rights and boundaries. In many cases, parents never seem to be able to find common ground, and one or both of them may continue to violate the other’s rights and boundaries throughout the process of raising their child and beyond.
While courts do not require divorcing parents to get along personally, they do expect parents to abide by the guidelines of their custody agreement and parenting plan. These documents are not suggestions about how parents should share their parenting responsibilities and obligations, but are legally binding. When one parent interferes with the other parent’s time with their child or undermines the other parent’s relationship with the child, courts may consider this parenting time interference.
In recent years, Texas law enforcement has paid more attention to direct interference than instances of indirect interference, but courts still consider interference a punishable offense, and may remove privileges or place restrictions on an offending parent.
Direct interference may occur any time that one parent prevents the other parent from physically spending time with their child according to the guidelines of the custody order. Indirect interference is more subtle. It includes actions that do not deprive the other parent of their custody or visitation time, but negatively influence the child against the other parent or obstruct their communication.
Indirect interference and ways to guard against it
If your child’s other parent undermines your relationship with your child, you may have legal tools you can use to protect your parent-child relationship. First, it is important to identify behaviors that may qualify as indirect interference. Examples of indirect interference may include:
- Preventing you from speaking on the phone with your child
- Preventing you from communicating with your child online or through mobile devices.
- Refusing to give your child gifts or letters that you send them
- Talking about you in a negative way in your child’s presence
- Coercing your child to spy on you during your custody or visitation time together
While there are other examples of indirect interference, these are the most common forms that it takes. Courts take indirect interference seriously, provided that you document parenting violations and provide evidence when you file your complaint.
This process looks different in each case, and courts have some flexibility in how they address indirect interference, so it is important to understand the specifics of your circumstances and document violations when they occur. Much like building a personal injury claim after a car accident, the more evidence that you can provide to uphold your claim, the better.
Begin now to protect your family’s future
The longer you wait to confront an issue like indirect interference, the more disruptive it may be for your family. Allowing a parent to establish a bad pattern of behavior can make it much more difficult to change course later on, so it is wise to begin building your legal strategy as soon as possible.
Careful preparation and attention to the needs of your child helps ensure that you keep your rights secure while you navigate the difficulties of co-parenting in the modern world.