When you separated from your spouse, you likely attempted to create some type of custody agreement if the two of you had children. After a judge finalizes any type of custody agreement, it becomes legally binding and both parties must hold to the provisions handed down in it. Custody interference is any violation of the guidelines of the visitation or custody rules by either you or your ex-spouse.
There are many reasons why a parent may violate a custody order. Some are serious and some are less so. Parents, like most adults, have occasional life changes or events that may result in missing a drop-off time or other minor issue. Some other incidents, like kidnapping, are extremely serious and can result in criminal and civil penalties. As a rule, an individual will always want to adhere to his or her portion of the agreement and seek a peaceful resolution with the co-parent, using legal solutions if and when needed.
Should I stop paying child support if I don't get to see my children?
One popular question that some parents have is whether they should stop child support payments if the ex is withholding visitation. In almost all cases, this is not a good idea. Your ex can report you to the child support enforcement agency, and this action could result in a judge reducing your time with the kids. Support payments and visitation issues are totally separate. If you want more time with the kids, talk it over with your ex or pursue a custody modification order.
My ex and I share legal decision making. Do I have to consult her if she always disagrees?
Legal custody, or legal decision making as it is known in Arizona, refers to the ability to make decisions for the child relating to religion, education and/or health care. In many cases, the parents may share legal decision making for their children. However, if you avoid consulting with your ex about major life decisions and your ex challenges your decisions in court, you could potentially lose that right. It is better to make a good faith effort and stay in line with the agreement until another solution can be reached.
My ex took the kids out of town without asking. Isn't this interference?
This answer depends on the laws of your location and the provisions of the custody agreement. Unless the law and the agreement state otherwise, a parent can take his or her children on vacation without consulting the co-parent. Of course, for safety reasons, it might be a good policy to keep your ex in the know. If you have asked your ex to inform you of future vacation plans and he or she refuses, you could possibly file an "order to show cause."
Err on the side of the agreement
Sharing parenting responsibilities can be challenging, and the fact that you and your ex are no longer compatible may make the situation worse. By making a good faith effort to maintain the best interests of the children, keeping a cordial relationship (if possible) with your ex and sticking to the custody plan, you will likely succeed. In the event that seemingly unresolvable custody issues do arise, an experienced lawyer can be an invaluable resource toward resolving your issues in the most favorable manner possible for you and your children.