The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis for many people, including divorced parents in Massachusetts with minor children. In normal circumstances, after the divorce is final, the child custody and visitation agreement will become legally-binding. If the custodial parent unreasonably withholds visitation after that, it will be a legal violation of the court order.
Divorce attorney Jay Davis has more than two decades of experience in handling all kinds of complex situations in divorce, child custody, and visitation disputes, and he has deep domain expertise in Massachusetts family law. Call today at 617-221-3548 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.
Co-Parenting During COVID-19: Open Letter from the Chief Justice
Chief Justice John D. Casey has issued an open letter to address the concerns of divorced parents regarding co-parenting during the coronavirus crisis.
The Chief Justice recommends that in exceptional/exigent circumstances, a divorced parent should contact the local court. Parenting orders continue to be upheld during this time period. In fact, the Chief Justice suggests that it is important for children to have an opportunity spend time with both parents during this time, where the court order provides for it.
In a situation where a parent is required to self-quarantine or is otherwise restricted from making physical contact with others, both parents should cooperate and allow for parenting time through virtual means such as video conferencing or telephone.
The court has made some changes to the mandatory parent education requirements in the prevailing situation. Divorced parents can access this information here. Co-parenting information pertaining to this difficult period has also been provided at this website.
Additional guidelines for parents who have been separated or divorced and share custody of kids during the current pandemic situation are also made available by the court. Click here to review these seven guidelines.
Withholding Visitation in Normal Times
If the custodial parent repeatedly withholds visitation, disregards the parenting plan, or shows unreasonable unwillingness to reschedule visitation even in an emergency, it is important for you to fight for your rights as a co-parent.
Jay Davis and his legal team can take up such matters on your behalf through the family courts in Massachusetts and ensure that your visitation rights are protected. Courts are highly concerned about the best interests of your child.
At Davis Law Group, we will prepare the necessary evidence to establish before the court that not allowing visitation not only violates your rights, but also hurts the child’s interests. In this situation, the family courts are usually quick to resolve the situation and may punish the other party for their actions.
If you are frequently facing the problem of visitation being withheld unreasonably by the custodial parent, divorce attorney Jay Davis can try to convince the court to take additional steps in your favor apart from legally forcing the custodial parent to honor the visitations.
Depending on your needs, in an exceptional case, the family court in Massachusetts may decide to permanently transfer child custody to you in order to punish the custodial parent for their repeated violation of the visitation agreement.
Can the Custodial Parent Hold Visitation if You Don’t Pay Child Support?
Under Massachusetts law, the custodial parent cannot withhold visitation for any reason. If as a non-custodial parent, you have not been paying child support on time, or there are past payments due, which you have not cleared, it should not be correlated to your visitation rights.
The custodial parent has a legal obligation to continue following the parenting plan even when you have not paid child support. However, they can approach the family court in MA to enforce child support payments. But if the judge finds that the custodial parent has withheld visitation on their own, they could face legal consequences.
Although, going by the same principle, as a non-custodial parent, you shouldn’t withhold child support as a retaliatory measure when your visitation rights are not being fulfilled. You should continue making your child support payments in this situation, and speak to an experienced family law attorney such as Jay Davis.
Jay Davis and his dedicated legal team will petition to the MA family court to uphold the terms of your parenting plan as originally agreed. Rather than taking things in your own hands such as withholding child support, you can achieve far more favorable results when you follow the appropriate course of action with the legal advice and guidance of Jay Davis.
Can a Visitation Dispute Result in a Kidnapping Charge?
In exceptional situations, if the custodial parent withholds visitation persistently, or the non-custodial parent refuses to send the child back after visitation, the courts in MA may consider this as kidnapping, and arrest the offending parent on this criminal charge.
Consult with a Seasoned Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer in MA
Withholding visitation from the non-custodial parent harms both the child and the parent and can create severe emotional distress. Davis Law Group, led by the top-rated family law attorney Jay Davis, can provide you the best legal counsel in these situations and fight to protect your rights. To schedule a consultation with Jay, call us at 617-221-3548 or contact us online.