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Attorney Gregory P. Lee
 
  • Both parents are presumed “fit” for contact with the children unless evidence demonstrates otherwise.
     
  • Non-custodial parents get and deserve liberal visitation unless they pose a serious physical or emotional threat to the child.  This visitation is as much the child’s need and right as the parent’s.
     
  • Each parent must avoid bad-mouthing the other in the children’s presence or hearing, and must also keep others from doing the same.

Judges now prefer the term "parenting time" over visitation.  Many statutes and cases use the older term, however.  Whatever it is called, it is ordered for the child's need for healthy relationships with both parents, and for both parents to have reasonable influence on their children's development.

Many studies have been done on children of divorced and never-married parents.  There is no doubt that these children experience extra difficulties in school and later life.  Productive and healthy contact with both parents helps these children.  Parents should never consider children to be mere "territory" to be won or lost in legal skirmishes. Parenting time should be open and reasonable so long as a parent is not unfit.

Healthy visitation is generally viewed as a right or privilege of the non-custodial parent.  Because healthy contact is so essential to children’s well-being, it is must also be seen as a right of the child.  Preventing parenting time without good cause is not appropriate.

Non-custodial parents who can be appropriate and focus on their children’s needs are given extensive visitation rights in Massachusetts.  Although a schedule is often worked out for the parties’ and children’s convenience, “reasonable notice” visitation is and should be the norm.  Parents need to be able to deal fairly and flexibly with each other.

Not all parents behave appropriately with and toward their children.  When the non-custodial parent cannot or will not be appropriate, cannot put the best interest of the child first, visitation may be limited.  Violence or abuse toward the child or other parent and bad-mouthing the other parent do and should result in limited or supervised parenting time.  In the most serious cases, these acts may result in terminating contact privileges.

When there is no reason to interfere with visitation, the courts will act to protect the relationship between parent and child.  Custodial parents are not allowed to arbitrarily deprive the child and the other parent from contact.  In cases of serious unjustified interference with visitation, the courts may on occasion find that the best interest of the child requires a transfer of custody.

Both parents are also responsible for keeping their family and friends from bad-mouthing the other parent in the children’s presence or hearing.  This can be difficult at times, but every effort must be made.  If your family and friends cannot be appropriate, the children should not be in their company.  The other parent's rights exceed those of grandparents and third parties in most cases.

If visitation is unfairly denied, or the real needs of the children require that visitation be limited, Attorney Lee will represent you to obtain the result which is in your interest and the best interest of the children.

 

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