One of the reasons it is so important to properly document parental interference is that it can be used as grounds for a finding of material change in circumstances in contested post-divorce custody modifications. In S.A.M.D. v. J.P.D., a Father filed a Petition to Modify after several contempt filings. The Trial Court found a material change had occurred because the Mother did not try hard enough to get the child in speech therapy, the Mother got the child to school late all the time, and very importantly the Mother interfered with Father’s relationship with the child. The Court of Appeals affirmed and specifically affirmed the finding of interference as follows:
“Mother also argues that the evidence does not support the trial court’s finding that Mother interfered with Father’s relationship with Son. We disagree. The evidence fully supports the trial court’s finding. At times, Mother cooperated with Father, such as arranging his parenting time around his irregular work schedule. However, Father testified that on numerous occasions, Mother was resistant to Father’s parenting time and used the necessary communications on parenting time arrangements as an opportunity to antagonize and bait Father. The trial court credited Father’s testimony, and the October 20, 2010 text exchange corroborates his testimony. The evidence also shows that Mother obstructed the father-son relationship and inserted herself into it by not facilitating their telephone conversations or by having Son return Father’s telephone calls only in Mother’s presence, such as in her car. Giving appropriate deference to the trial court’s credibility determinations, we hold that the evidence preponderates in favor of the trial court’s finding that Mother interfered with Father’s relationship with the child.”
Although this was not the only issue, the interference proved very important in this post-divorce modification matter. If you are dealing with parental interference you need to contact your divorce attorney immediately to begin proper documentation for post-divorce proceedings, since generally parental interference gets worse over time and not better.