Defending Yourself Against Allegations of Parenting Time Interference
If you are a custodial parent, you know how difficult it can be to coordinate your children’s schedules with the other parent so that parenting time schedules are kept. Inevitably, there will be last-minute conflicts, postponements and cancellations. However, if you have a touchy relationship with the other parent, this normal give-and-take can soon escalate to accusations that you are interfering with parenting time and attempting to alienate your children from your spouse. To defend against such allegations, there are preemptory steps you should take:
- Keep a written record of the other parent’s parenting time with all relevant information, including the scheduled exchange time, the time at which the parties arrived at the exchange point, how long the session lasted, and when the children were returned.
- If you must postpone or cancel a scheduled parenting time session, contact the other parent as soon as possible. Note the reason for the schedule change in your record.
- Put yourself in the other parent’s position. Appreciate how frustrating it can be for the other parent to plan an activity only to have it cancelled. Offer compensatory time graciously.
- Save all text messages, voice messages and emails related to parenting time.
- Project a positive attitude toward your children regarding the other parent’s time with them.
- Prepare your child for the parenting time session. Remember that you are legally obligated to make your children available for parenting time. If your children are resistant, you must not give in to trivial excuses. If they weren’t in the mood to go to school, would you let them stay home? Likewise, you cannot let them just opt out of parenting time. The court can see this as an attempt on your part to have them reject the other parent.
All things said, you must remember there are legitimate reasons to interfere with visitation, and Minnesota law provides affirmative defenses when you act for the safety and welfare of your child. If the other parent shows up for an exchange under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should not allow the visit to happen. Make note of the incident. If your child complains about dangerous or inappropriate behavior by the other parent on a previous visit, do not allow another visit to happen until you contact your attorney for advice on how to proceed.
If you’d like further information about parenting time protocols, schedule a free consultation with our family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.