As you navigate custody issues, you may worry what you should do if your ex-spouse interferes with your time with your child.

Custodial interference is a serious issue, and its effect on you and your child’s relationship can cause legal and emotional problems.

Meaning of the term

According to Washington State Legislature, once a visitation arrangement is in place, one spouse cannot legally detain or keep a child away from his or her other parent. Doing so means you risk first degree interference charges, which is a kind of kidnapping. The only exception to this is if one parent suspects the other one of abusing or harming the child.

Types of interference

Limiting communication and access to a phone or other device is part of interference. If your ex-spouse continually drops off your child late or is early to pick him or her up, then he or she may be purposefully limiting your rightful amount of time with your child.

This could escalate to the point where the spouse refuses to let the child visit you at all. Enticing your child away from you is another common way to prevent you from seeing him or her.

Effect on relationships

A weakened parental relationship or bond is often the end product of continued interference. Your ex-spouse may be trying to alienate or coerce your child into disliking you in order to use the child as leverage against you.

A rough divorce or long custody battle may cause one parent to seek to wreck the other parent’s reputation with his or her child. However, there is a legal precedent to stop this behavior through changed custody schedules or supervised visits.