Custodial Interference, a precursor to full blown Parental Alienation, happens when one parent purposefully withholds a child from his or her other parent with the intent to prevent or interfere with that parent’s physical custody of the child. This is a crime in most states even if the offending parent has full custody of the child(ren).
This type of behavior can look as innocent as making excuses for the child not to be able to see the other parent, like, “She’s not feeling well enough to spend time with you today”…or “Im sorry, I forgot and scheduled a doctor’s appointment during the time she was supposed to be with you, I guess we will have to put off your visit for another week”. This can go on and on to where it begins to be a struggle every time you are supposed to have visitation. Maybe one week they don’t show up until an hour after the scheduled time to the meeting place, with apologies later of course. Maybe next week they don’t show up at all. It can be anything to throw you off or inconvenience you. The custodial parent meanwhile is secretly hoping that one day you will just back off, lose interest and give up. It’s at that point that they can then tell the child, “See, I told you Daddy/Mommy doesn’t really care about you. Unfortunately usually the only way you can deal with this kind of situation is to hire a lawyer. The other parent has already shown himself/herself to not be someone you can reasonably work with….they may even act like they don’t know what you could possibly be talking about if you try to approach them with your concerns and or accusations. It’s best to find someone to mediate and advocate for you, this will help you to remain more emotionally stable because you will be slightly removed from the situation and you will be allowing someone else to do the arguing for you.
If you find yourself in this situation, these are some helpful things to keep in mind as you prepare to go into battle with your unreasonable Ex:
1. The first thing you should do is start keeping a log or diary of the occurrences, this will help you keep things straight because circumstances and situations will start getting jumbled together in your head.
2. As much as possible try to get physical evidence, for example, emails and texts messages. It’s much better to communicate through written word because you will have a true account of how your conversations go with your Ex. Its pretty much impossible to prove things that were said over the phone, unless of course you record your conversations with them…which I wouldn’t advise doing because you could run into some legal issues with that especially if the other party doesn’t know you’re recording them.
3. Make sure that you set up visitation meeting places for picking up your child(ren) in public areas where there are plenty of witnesses that could back you up if needed. Also, get there a little early and make a small purchase so you will have a receipt showing the date/time….this will prove that you were indeed where you were supposed to be and you were there at the correct time. Keep all of these receipts in an envelope. A good way to keep this organized is by labeling your envelopes by month/year.
4. Refrain from making any disparaging remarks against the other parent in front of or especially to your child(ren). This could come back to bite you in the butt big time! I know it will probably be difficult at first until you come up with your own generic phrases like, “I’m not sure, that would be something you should ask your Mother”…and then use distraction techniques…”let’s go to the park and play catch”. Or “I’m sorry honey, this is really between your Mommy and I, this is something you shouldn’t worry about…of course this doesn’t change my love for YOU” ….and then again use distraction. Try to use “I” statements as much as possible…talking for only yourself, not the other parent. Let the child figure out on his/her own what the other parents indiscretions are. Unfortunately you will have to hold your harsh words or anger in until your child isn’t around…consider blowing off steam with a trusted friend or family member or go to the gym and work out. Your child most likely will be interviewed or evaluated so you don’t want to take the chance that they may say something innocently to someone that may hurt your case down the road!
5. When your with your child(ren) plan fun activities as much as you can. You have limited time with them already…make your time count! ENJOY your time with them…after all, they ARE the loves of your life. You don’t have to do things that cost a lot of money, get creative…just make sure you are DOING something. It’s not quantity of time that counts…it’s QUALITY. Kids just need your undivided attention to feel like they are important and that they matter. Doing things together is a good way to gather more physical evidence too! Take photos of the things you do and also the people you are doing them with, for example, a visit to Grandma’s and time spent with family….or….a trip to the zoo and all the fun you had while you were there. This will show the smiles and the love, so that the child will have something to help them remember those good feelings, and more importantly they will remember the TRUTH when their Mother is working on their psyche. Photos will also be helpful if ever needed to prove how good your relationship is with your child, and will also show that you practice active parenting.
** End Note:
Don’t kid yourself, take these signs very seriously. When you start seeing the kinds of things I’ve mentioned above, this is Custodial Interference and chances are, the wheels have already been set in motion for you to be totally alienated by the other parent. The thing you have to realize and understand is that along with the other parent trying to physically keep you from the child, that parent will also be working hard on the mind of your child to try to influence and brainwash them to start internalizing lies about you. The custodial parent spends way more time with the child so they will have plenty of opportunity to embed misinformation into their heads which will start to confuse them and will eventually turn the them against you. Arm yourself and BE PREPARED!!