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Options for enforcing parenting time in Massachusetts

In many child custody and visitation matters in Massachusetts, one parent will have the care and control of the child most of the time. The other parent, however, will generally be given court-ordered visitation. In other words, the other parent’s legal visitation rights are backed by the authority and power of the court hearing the case.

Unfortunately, this is oftentimes not enough to persuade a parent to recognize that he or she must allow the child to visit with the other parent per the court’s visitation order. Sometimes, a parent will flat out ignore visitation orders and deprive the other parent the right to see and have a relationship with the child. In other cases, the defiance is subtler in that there are a series of little violations of the order, oftentimes accompanied by a lot of seemingly plausible excuses.

Such a situation can be very frustrating for a parent who wants, and expects, to see his or her children and be involved in their lives. As such, they may recognize that they need to take legal steps in order to force the uncooperative parent into complying with the court’s orders.

Generally speaking, a parent who is not getting the visits to which he or she is entitled, or who is otherwise a victim of the other parent’s violation of the court’s orders, will have to ask the court hearing the case to hold the other parent in contempt of court. The parent may initiate this process by filing the appropriate paperwork with the court, but he or she must be prepared to demonstrate that the other parent has indeed violated the court’s visitation order and has done so without a valid excuse.

Judges have a lot of leeway to handle contempt cases, and so they may be able to ensure that a parent does indeed get the time with his or her child to which he or she is entitled. However, enforcing a parenting time order can be complicated for many reasons, which is why many Springfield residents turn to their family law attorneys for help.