Parenting Time, or commonly known as visitation, is the time a non-custodial parent spends with their child(ren) after the parents separate and is governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 209 section 31. The award of parenting time typically arises when one parent is granted sole physical custody of the child, meaning the child lives primarily with that parent, subject to reasonable visitation with the non-custodial parent.
Each parent, regardless of who has physical custody and who has visitation, is deemed to have equal parental rights. Which parent that is awarded custody versus visitation is determined by what is in the best interest of the child. In other words, the court considers the happiness and welfare of the child along with the child’s physical, mental, moral, and emotional health and the child’s preferences.
In some cases, where the circumstances give rise to abuse and neglect, the court may determine that it is in the child’s best interest to order a restraining order, supervised visitation, or even temporary custody with a third party, preferably with a family member.
The courts consider parenting time to be critical for the best interests of the child. Interference of parenting time by either parent, whether directly or indirectly, may result in court ordered “make-up” time, a temporary or permanent change in the parenting time schedule, and even fines, court costs and attorney’s fees imposed on the wrongdoing parent.
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