Coping with Parenting Time Interference After Your Divorce
Noncustodial parents often feel the loss of everyday contact with their children very acutely, which is why they view their allotted parenting time as precious. It is difficult to absorb the loss of one scheduled visit, but most parents realize that life is hectic and make allowances for occasional conflicts. But when a pattern of cancelled appointments starts to emerge, you may have reason to suspect the custodial parent is actively interfering with your parenting time. Then you must take action to protect your parenting rights.
A pattern of interference may include:
- Dates cancelled at the last minute, so rescheduling before the next date is not possible
- Dates cancelled due to activities that could have been scheduled at a different time
- Custodial parent claiming s/he didn’t know about a conflict when you have good reason to believe s/he did
- Custodial parent claiming the child is not feeling well, must study for an important exam, or doesn’t want to see you
The custodial parent has a legal duty to make your children available for parenting time. You should not go running to court for every ten minutes you’re kept waiting, but when missed appointments and excuses start to pile up, you can go to court for enforcement of your custody agreement. Available remedies in Minnesota include:
- Compensatory parenting time to make up for the missed appointments
- Reimbursement of your costs incurred due to the cancelled appointments
- Civil penalty of up to $500 for the interference
- Compelling the custodial parent to pay the noncustodial parent’s attorney fees and court costs
- Any other remedy the court feels is in the best interests of the child, including an award of joint custody
If you want a remedy to interference with your parenting time, it is important that you present yourself blamelessly before the court. That means showing you have acted reasonably. You must not:
- Send hostile or threatening messages via voice mail, text or email
- Show up unannounced for unscheduled “make up” time
- Take the children out of school or pick them up at school without the custodial parent’s knowledge and permission
- Stop paying child support
You should keep a record of all missed appointments and the reasons given for the cancellation. You want to make it as easy as possible for the court to conclude that the other parent has violated your rights without provocation and you are the wronged party.
For further guidance on enforcing your parenting time after divorce, contact our family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.