As a parent sharing custody of your child, you understand that the time you spend together is one of the most valuable and irreplaceable things you have. Unfortunately, this is also true for your child’s other parent, even if the two of you are not on good terms. This tension between parents often creates conflicts around respecting each other’s court-ordered parenting time, which can result in significant punishment from a court if one parent violates the other’s parenting time rights.

Some parents seem to think that their custody order is merely a suggestion, not a legally binding agreement that a court may enforce. While most of us experience complications beyond our control, it is generally wise to obey the custody schedule. This ensures that you stay out of conflict with your child’s other parent as much as possible, while protecting your rights.

Stealing parenting time

If you value your time with your child, then you understand that all parents value this as well, at least to some degree. When one parent does not follow a custody agreement fully, or regularly ignores or changes custody transfers, they steal parenting time.

Courts do not approve of this behavior, and parents who steal parenting time often pay the price by sacrificing their own privileges. Extreme cases of stealing parenting time may even result in criminal charges, if the behavior amounts to parental kidnapping.

Undermining parent-child relationships

Courts also acknowledge that some parents try to make life difficult for their child’s other parent through manipulation or other bad behavior. While this is not as obvious in all cases as depriving the other parent of their time with the child, it is still wrong and illegal.

Courts may punish a parent who keeps another parent from communicating with their child, or who undermines the other parent’s relationship to their child. In general, it is not acceptable to prevent communication with the child or to cast the other parent in a negative light when the child is present.

Keep your rights secure

By establishing clear boundaries around your time and relationship with your child, you send a strong message that you value your role as a parent and do not tolerate manipulation or other bad behavior. Make sure to keep these rights protected with a strong legal strategy, so that you can focus your effort on spending time with the child you love and giving them the best life that you can.