What can I do if the other parent doesn’t return my child back to me on time?
Let’s say you share parenting time with your child’s other parent. It can be that you split this time 50/50 or it can be that one parent has primary physical custody and the other parent has a set schedule for their parenting time. Either way, you both have your designated times that you get to spend with your child. So what happens if the other parent doesn’t adhere to the schedule and you’re left waiting?
This situation is often referred to as parenting time interference. Depending on how significant the interference is, you may do nothing, go to court, or even report your ex for kidnapping. An experienced Boston child custody lawyer can help you weigh your options and determine the best action.
At Infinity Law Group, we fiercely advocate for our clients and their rights as parents. We are also realistic about the realities of sharing custody and help our clients make decisions that are in their best interests and the best interests of their children. Reach out to our law offices today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal time.
What Are My Options If My Co-Parent Interferes with My Parenting Time?
In Massachusetts, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. A parent who does not have primary or shared physical custody may be awarded what is known as parenting time. It may also be referred to as visitation. Parenting time allows a parent without physical custody to spend time with their child(ren), such as every other weekend and/or some evenings after school.
Parenting time and custody arrangements are typically decided on by agreement of the parties or by a court. However, issues often arise when one parent is late returning the kids to the other parent – which can significantly cut into the amount of time that you spend with your kids each week. What are your options when this occurs?
The answer depends on the severity of the lateness. If we’re talking about being a half hour late or even a few hours late, then it would depend on how often this happens. If it always happens and you’re always left waiting for the other parent to be on time, you might consider altering your parenting schedules to either make sure the other parent can make it on time, or you can swap the responsibility of who does the pickup and drop off, or in the final alternative, have some sort of system set up where if either parent is late, then after 15 mins, you can leave. There are a lot of rewards and punishment systems that courts and family law attorneys have set up over time to encourage late parents to try to be on time. The last alternative is to go to court to reduce parenting time altogether.
If the lateness is not simply a matter of half an hour to an hour, but you’re worried that the other parent might NEVER return the child, then it is time to take action to protect your child. If a non-custodial parent doesn’t return a child to the primary parent, it is considered kidnapping. If you have an attorney, you should contact your attorney. If the attorney is unavailable, then you need to make a judgment call and perhaps call the police to report a kidnapping. Police departments across the state and country now have integrated Amber Alert systems to help track down children across state lines. If you truly believe that this is what has happened, then calling the police is the best course of action.
It is important to remember that sometimes, life happens. Perhaps there was a traffic jam, or a kid had a meltdown about getting ready to leave. For relatively minor issues, it may not be worth your emotional energy – or money – to go to court over 15 – 20 minutes every so often. You may be able to talk to your ex informally about complying with the custody order or ways that you can adjust it informally to ensure that your kids are back on time.
However, if the lateness has become a pattern – or if it is obvious that it is intentional – then you may want or need to go to court. A seasoned Boston child custody lawyer can walk you through your options, which may include having your custody arrangement modified. If there is a concern that your co-parent might not return your kids, then pursuing criminal charges may make sense.
Reach Out to Infinity Law Group
Sharing custody with a former spouse or romantic partner can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Even in an amicable breakup, you may not always agree about what is best for your kids. It can also be frustrating to deal with things like your ex not bringing the kids back on time – or even scary, in some situations.
If you are dealing with parenting time interference or related child custody issues, Infinity Law Group can help. We have substantial experience dealing with all types of custody disputes. Speak with an attorney if you have issues with your parenting schedule or time. Call us at 617-250-8236 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free phone consultation.