Avoiding custodial interference this holiday season

Parents in New Jersey can run into some tricky situations when they share custody of children or have a parenting time schedule in place; and this can be especially true during the holidays. There are a lot of family and religious obligations during this time of year, and it can be crucial for parents to have a clear understanding of schedules, obligations, and timesharing rights.

If one or both parents fail to comply with the prearranged schedules, intentionally or accidentally, it can seriously upset the holiday season. That failure may also be grounds to take legal action against the non-compliant parent. In order to avoid these messy situations, parents should understand what may be considered interfering with custody or visitation.

One common example of interference involves keeping a child past the agreed upon time. Children may want to spend more time with one parent than is allowed by a Court Order, especially during the fun and excitement of the holidays. It can be tempting for a parent to give in to the wishes of the child and have him or her for longer than is permitted, but doing so would likely be considered interference with the other parent’s custodial rights.

Additional examples of custodial interference include:

  • Failing to pick up a child for one or more scheduled visits
  • Showing up unannounced for visits
  • Withholding child support in an attempt to penalize the other parent
  • Taking a child on a trip that puts him or her in danger

Child custody and support obligations may be easy enough to comply with when everything is routine and running smoothly, and minor adjustments to schedules may not be a big problem. However, during the holidays, a missed deadline could prove to ruin the season for the parents and the child.

Resolving potential issues with interference could be as simple as discussing the situation with the other parent and reiterating the terms of the established parenting times. Unfortunately, this may not be sufficient in many cases and a more aggressive approach is needed. In these situations, it can be important to speak with a family law attorney and explore ways to address acts of custodial interference and seek penalties if necessary

About the Author:

Sarah Jacobs is dedicated to protecting the interests of clients in family law proceedings. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and Qualified as a Mediator, Sarah possesses nearly 20 years of experience practicing law throughout the State of New Jersey. Together with partner Jamie N. Berger, Esq. their boutique Morristown family law firm is managed with the goal of providing high-quality service tailored to each client's individual needs. In her capacity as both a family law mediator and litigator, Sarah works with negotiation-minded clients in a cooperative setting. She is also a skilled litigator with the knowledge needed to take even the most complex cases to court, if necessary.

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