In an ideal world, divorced or separated parents would be able to resolve their issues on their own and without involving their children. Unfortunately, the world is not ideal, and a disagreement between parents often results in one or both parents committing parental interference.
According to FindLaw, parental interference refers to the act of one parent disrupting the other’s allocated time with the child. Depending on the extent and severity of the disruption, the courts may treat it as a civil or criminal matter.
Parental interference can be direct or indirect. Direct interference is the most drastic type of interference and occurs when one parent physically prevents the child from seeing the other. A parent may do this by taking the child from the other parent’s care without permission, refusing to return the child at the scheduled time, canceling visitation without a valid excuse or moving the child to another state regardless of the court order.
Indirect interference, though not as blatant, is just as harmful to the child and his or her relationship with the target parent. Indirect interference may occur when a parent does not let the child accept phone calls from the other parent, when one parent refuses to let the other participate in the child’s school or social events or when one parent makes disparaging remarks about the other in front of the child.
If a parent’s interference violates court order, the target parent has a few options to remedy the situation. Remedies include the court ordering “make-up time” for the time the target parent lost with the child; ordering the offending party to attend counseling or take courses; imposing fines and attorney fees on the offending party; and/or permanently or temporarily changing the court order.
To right the wrongs committed by an interfering parent, the target parent should file a Petition for Contempt and an Order to Appear, according to the Westmoreland County Courts. If the courts find that the defendant did, in fact, violate the court order, the judge may impose fines, imprisonment or other remedies.