If you have been awarded your child's custody or visitation, then it is only the court that can deny you this right. However, there are situations in which the other parent may act in a manner that bars you from visiting your child—this is referred to as custodial interference. This interference can take several forms, for example:
Refusing a visit – consider an example where you are meant to have the child from Friday evening to Monday morning, but when Friday comes, the other parent refuses to let him or her leave.
Restricted telephone contact – your former partner restricts your phone calls with the child to certain hours of the day. This may not be explicit; for example, he or she may always give you an evasive answer when you call to talk to the child.
Keeping the child past the scheduled time – it may not be a big issue if it happens once or twice because unavoidable circumstances may create such problems. However, if he or she is always returning the child later than the scheduled times, then he or she is interfering with your custody.
Encouraging the child to stay away – sometimes the parent may work indirectly to keep the child from you. For example, he or she may promise the kid gifts if he or she stays away from you, or threaten him or her if he makes contact with you.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, then you should desist from taking the matter into your hands, for example, by taking the child away forcefully. Rather, you should contact your lawyer to petition the court for a remedy. Some of the possible solutions that the court may offer include:
- Makeup time – this directive gives you additional time, apart from the original schedule, to spend with your child. It may not be exactly the same duration that you were denied, but it should be comparable to this lost time.
- Change of primary custody – if you can prove active interference from the other parent, then you may succeed in getting primary custody of the child.
- Fines and fees – these may be levied if there has been repeated and serious violations of the custody or vitiation order.
- Third party visits – the court may also involve a third party in your dealings to ensure that vitiation runs according to the appointed schedule.
Note that there are cases where custodial interference may not be illegal. For example, if a record snow has fallen and all the roads have been closed, then it is okay for the parent having the child to keep him or her until the roads clear. Talk to an attorney like Hitchings L Timothy to see if your former partner's behavior constitutes illegal custodial interference.