We post a lot of answers to questions on TikTok, and recently we were asked a tricky question regarding parental interference and what to do when your child is spending time with the other parent and has a sleep-over at someone’s house that you don’t know. Let’s say your child calls you and you’re getting a bad vibe from the whole situation. How do you quantify that without looking like the interfering parent?
Parental Interference: A Real Thing
The general rule in family law is that during their parenting time, each parent has the right to make independent choices about their child’s care. This means that if a child is left overnight with a stranger (i.e., someone you don’t know and haven’t ‘vetted’) during their father’s parenting time for instance, their mother cannot simply show up and take them home. In fact, doing so could be considered parental interference, which is a real thing in family law.
Reasonable Person Standard and Negligence
That being said, family law is not always black and white. In legal terms, there is something called the “reasonable person standard.” Essentially, a person is expected to act as a reasonable person would in a given situation. This concept is tied to the theory of negligence, which exists because a reasonable person has a duty of care. In family law, the same standard applies.
Intervening When Your Child is in Danger
While a parent cannot typically interfere with the other parent’s parenting time, there are circumstances where intervention is appropriate. For example, if a child is in danger, the surroundings seem dangerous, or the other parent is incapacitated, the parent who is not currently parenting can make choices to ensure their child’s safety. However, it is crucial to act as a reasonable person would in these situations.
Consulting with a Family Law Attorney
But will the other parent – and potentially a judge – consider you a fusspot for pulling a kid out of a situation that could be considered reasonable? If you’re not sure and it’s not crystal clear, it is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who understands your particular situation. While online resources can be helpful, they are not a substitute for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. Only after thoroughly understanding your facts and circumstances can a lawyer provide you with accurate and reliable recommendations.
When it’s okay to get your child
In conclusion, family law is not always clear-cut, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. When it comes to parental rights and intervening in parenting time, it is essential to understand the reasonable person standard and consult with a family law attorney. Bottom line: While parental interference is a real thing, the safety of your child should always come first.