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Child custody, visitation, and parental interference

Although money can be an important consideration in divorce, many Californians are most concerned about protecting their relationship with their children. Sometimes couples are able to resolve child custody and visitation issues through settlement negotiations. Other times the matter has to be litigated. Regardless of how it is resolved, though, the issue can still become problematic from time-to-time, sometimes requiring additional legal action.

This is true in the case of parental interference. In essence, once an agreement or court order spells out the bounds of a child custody and visitation agreement, the parties need to stick to it. Oftentimes due to negative animosity amongst the parties, one parent may try to disrupt time his or her child spends with his or her other parent. This is parental interference. It can occur directly, such as when a custodial parent refuses to make the child available for visitation with a noncustodial parent, or it can be indirect in nature, such as when communication between the child and the other parent is blocked or delayed.

Although direct interference does occur, indirect interference is much more common. A parent may try to prevent another parent from attending school functions or connecting with the child via phone, which can have a profound impact on the child's relationship with their other parent. A parent may even interfere by making disparaging remarks about the other parent or asking the child to essentially spy on the other parent and report back. These actions can also have a negative impact on a child's life.

When parental interference occurs and the matter cannot be settled amongst the parties, then legal action is likely necessary. Although a court may order a parent to pay fines or make the child available for makeup visits, such interference may also justify child custody modification or modification of visitation. Californians who find themselves dealing with this issue may want to discuss their unique set of circumstances with a family law attorney who can advise them as to the options available to them.

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