After divorce, parents often struggle to make the transition to coparenting, especially if the divorce was particularly painful. While most parents do not want to make their child suffer because of parental conflicts, in many cases, that is exactly what happens. It is common for parents who do not understand the seriousness of their custody orders to use child custody conflicts as a way to punish the other parent or feel as though they "won the divorce."
We are all fallible humans, so it is wise to have some grace for others who are going through a difficult season. However, is also important to understand your rights as a parent and the tools you have to protect those rights. If you allow your child's other parent to establish patterns of bad behavior, it is difficult to push back and regain ground you've already lost. Be sure to use your resources to keep your rights secure throughout your child's upbringing, even if it may make things uncomfortable at first.
When one parent does not respect the other parent's time
For most of us, the time that we spend with our children is the most precious thing we have. While we can rebuild bank accounts and asset portfolios if we lose them, the time we lose with our children is time that we never get back. It is important to treasure this time and protect it.
Courts recognize the importance of parenting time, and often hand out punishment to parents who do not obey their custody orders. These parents may steal time from another parent in any number of ways, but the end result is the same. When one parent keeps the other parent from enjoying their parenting time with their child, it is direct parenting time interference.
In extreme cases, direct interference may ultimately qualify as parental kidnapping, and this can result in criminal charges and jail time.
When one parent undermines the other's relationship with their child
It is also possible for one parent to complicate the other parent's relationship with their child, even if they do not keep them from spending time together. Often, this involves one parent manipulating how the other parent communicates with the child, or may involve a parent putting negative ideas about the other parent in the child's mind.
Most parenting agreements include language that forbids all of this behavior. If you have concerns about the strength of your own parenting agreement, don't wait to review it.
A strong legal strategy helps you keep your focus on creating a safe, comfortable place for your child to learn and grow, while keeping your rights as a parent protected. For your own sake, and for your child's best interests, don't put off addressing these issues if they show in your co-parenting relationship. The sooner you address them, the sooner you can set better patterns in place that will serve you for years to come.