W. Tyler Moore, PC

Can a parent interfere with their ex's parenting time?

Sometimes when parents in Texas divorce, the bitterness and rancor they have with each other lasts well after the official divorce decree is signed. When a divorcing couple has children, a parenting plan will be established that is supposed to meet the needs of the child. Unfortunately, parents may not always follow the plan. While sometimes unanticipated changes may need to be made, other times a parent purposely interferes with his or her ex's parenting time.

Parenting time interference can be either direct or indirect. Direct parenting time interference takes place when one parent physically keeps the child away from the other parent. For example, the parent may abduct the child, refuse to return the child to the care of the other parent or unlawfully relocate with the child. Cancelling visitation periods or failing to honor scheduled child custody or visitation exchanges also constitute direct parenting time interference. In addition, parents are bound to follow the parenting plan, even if one parent has not paid child support owed to the other parent.

Then there is indirect parenting time interference. This takes place when a parent disrupts the child's ability to communicate with the other parent. For example, if a parent does not allow the child to talk on the phone with the other parent, this may be indirect parenting time interference. Another example of indirect parenting time interference is when a parent keeps the child's other parent from attending school programs or extracurricular activities. Also, parents cannot tell their child to give them information about their ex's personal life.

When there is a violation of parenting time, there are a variety of remedies the court may order. The court may give the aggrieved party "make-up" parenting time. The offending parent may need to take an education course or see a counselor. There could be fines imposed. In some situations, the parenting time order may be adjusted, either on a temporary basis or on a permanent basis. Finally, in Texas parenting time interference is against the law and the offending parent could be charged with a felony.

In the end, when parenting time is interfered with, it is the child who is harmed the most. There are legal avenues a parent can take if they want to modify a child custody or parenting time order, rather than taking matters into their own hands and unlawfully interfering with their ex's parenting time.

Source: FindLaw, "Parenting Time Interference," accessed March 13, 2018

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