California’s family courts take parenting time very seriously. When one parent drastically interferes with the other’s parenting time, both the civil and criminal consequences can be severe.
Sometimes the interference is open and direct, The parent with physical custody of the child actively prevents the other parent from seeing the child in some way:
— Leaving the state or country with the child without notifying the other parent in advance
— Moving addresses without telling the other parent the new location
— Refusing to allow the other parent his or her normally scheduled visitation because he or she has fallen behind on support payments
— Cancelling visitation days without sufficient reason, such as a true emergency
— Simply refusing to allow the parent his or her normal visitation
Other times, the interference is indirect or more subtle in nature:
— Not notifying the parent of school or extra-curricular events, per the custody agreement, to give the illusion that the other parent was uninterested in attending
— Refusing to allow the non-custodial parent to talk to the child on the phone
— Encouraging the child to refuse to visit his or her other parent
— Demonizing the other parent in such a way that the children become afraid of the other parent or entirely alienated from him or her.
If it’s a first-time incident and doesn’t quite cross the line into a criminal matter, like parental abduction, the courts may simply order “make-up” parenting time. For serious offenses, however, the court may order either a temporary or permanent change in primary custody — removing the children from the non-compliant parent’s care entirely.
The offending parent can also be fined, forced to pay the other parent’s attorney fees, forced to pay for counseling for the children, required to attend counseling himself or herself, and limited to only supervised visitation with the children until the court feels sure that he or she won’t engage in any behavior like that again.
The offending parent can also be charged under criminal law with parental abduction, especially if there is an intent to hide the child. Depending on the circumstances, the offending parent could face significant jail time and fines, plus the loss of custody.
If you’re struggling to get your child’s other parent to allow you proper parenting time, talk to an attorney about your situation as soon as possible.
Source: FindLaw, “Parenting Time Interference,” accessed March 23, 2017