You never thought it would end up this way: after the divorce, you rarely see your kids. You are a father who is frustrated that your ex will not let you visit the kids. You worry how much longer you will have to wait to see them and be involved in their lives. "It's been too long, but maybe next month will be better," you tell yourself. You hope. You wait.
It doesn't have to be that way. If the court has granted you visitation or parenting time that your ex is not obliging by, you have legal rights to see your children. The legal term for not allowing you to see your children is parenting time interference. Did you go to court and agree on a parenting time arrangement, only to see your ex not following through on it?
Parenting time interference is happening if you can answer any of the following questions with a, "yes.":
- Does your ex physically prevent your child from seeing you, and you from seeing your child?
- Did your ex move your child away to another state without court approval?
- Is your ex not allowing the child to text or call you, or respond to your texts or calls?
- Is your ex preventing you from attending the child's school or after-school activities?
- Is your ex preventing you from seeing the child on or around special occasions, like birthdays or holidays, even though your parental time agreement grants you that special time?
- Does your ex bad-mouth you in front of the kids so much to try to have the child refuse to see you? Is what your ex says about you to the child interfering with your ability to see your child?
So what can you do if any of these things are happening? You can protect your rights by going to court or asking a family law attorney to take this to court to find a resolution. In fact, in the state of Texas, interference with your parental rights is a felony, and can result in criminal charges against your ex. This is only also true in California and New York. A court can also grant the following things if your ex is not allowing you your parenting time:
- Court-ordered make-up parenting time to make up for the lost hours, days, months or even years without your child
- Ordering your ex to pay fines, court costs or attorney's fees that resulted from this going back to court. Your ex could also be ordered to pay for counseling.
- Changing the custody or parenting time order, either temporarily or for good
Keep in mind that the court's role is to decide what is in your child's best interest. Usually, it is in a child's best interest to have both parents in his or her life. Although it can be heartbreaking to spend so much time away from your child, along with the frustration of knowing your ex is preventing you from seeing them, a family law attorney can help you resolve these issues. If the issues continue, an attorney can help modify the custody arrangement to meet your family's needs.