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What to do when a parent harasses a child by phone or text

Maryland custodial parents of young children might wonder whether they can reduce or block the other parent's communication with their child by text, phone or video call. These communications may be part of the custody and visitation agreement if the non-custodial parent lives far away and is unable to see the child in person regularly. A court is generally reluctant to interfere with the relationship between a parent and child unless there are issues such as abuse.

In fact, a parent may do damage to their child by giving them a negative impression of the other parent and trying to limit or end their contact. If parents do feel this is necessary, they might want to first discuss the situation with a child psychologist.

If harassment is occurring, parents should document the incidents in case they need to go to court to stop it. It might be necessary to put together a virtual visitation agreement that is limited and specific in terms of how often communication occurs between the noncustodial parent and the child.

Parents who are prevented from seeing or contacting their child by the other parent might want to discuss the situation with their attorney. This is generally not considered acceptable by a court, and custodial parents who defy court orders in this way may lose some of their parental rights. However, it may be possible for parents to resolve the issue with the help of their respective attorneys instead of going back to court. Parents may also want to consider creating a parenting plan during the divorce that addresses this and similar issues. A parenting plan might also cover vacations and could help reduce conflict and the likelihood that parents must return to court to resolve their differences.

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