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Exercising parenting time

When a Massachusetts couple goes through a divorce, in most cases one parent will become the custodial parent while the other parent will have visitation rights. While many non-custodial parents ensure that they visit with their children during their scheduled parenting time, others decide that they no longer want to or cannot see their children.

While the visitation order can always be modified if the non-custodial parent refuses to exercise their right to visit with their children, this may not be in the children's best interest except in certain situations. It is usually recommended that the custodial parent attempt to engage the non-custodial parent in the children's lives.

In some states, parents who choose not to take advantage of their visitation rights could face fines and be required by the court to reimburse the custodial parent for any costs associated with the violation of the order. Other states may award the custodial parent more child support. In Massachusetts, non-custodial parents have the right not to fulfill their court-ordered parenting time and will not be subject to contempt. However, if the custodial parent attempts to keep a non-custodial parent from visiting with their children as a result, the custodial parent face contempt charges.

When it comes to a child custody agreement, the court will decide which parent will have physical custody of the children if a joint custody agreement cannot be reached, based upon what is in the children's best interests. A family law attorney may assist a client in seeking child custody and in requesting a modification of the order if the circumstances have changed since it was originally made.

Source: Findlaw, "What if a non-custodial parent fails to exercise his or her designated parenting time with the minor child(ren)?", January 05, 2015

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