Massachusetts Visitation Laws and Rights

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

In the wake of a breakup or impending divorce, couples with children must address custody issues. When one parent is the primary custodial parent, generally the other parent has visitation rights. Parents can try to come to some consensus about what to do; if they're successful, a court will usually follow their agreement. However, if the parents can't come to an understanding, the court steps in and has the final say over what happens to the child concerning visitation rights by using the "best interests of the child" test.

Massachusetts Visitation Laws and Rights at a Glance

The best way to get assistance with statutory interpretation is to work with an attorney. However, before you reach that step, you can gain understanding of the law by reading a plain English version of the content. Read the chart below for an explanation of visitation laws and rights in Massachusetts.

Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws, Part II.

 

Visitation Rights: Limitations

 

The court can't make an order providing "parenting time" or visitation rights to any parent under the following conditions:

  • A parent was convicted of murder in the first degree of the other parent of the child.
  • A parent engaged in incidents of rape named in the statute and is seeking to obtain visitation with the child who was conceived during the commission of the rape; (unless the judge determines that such child is of suitable age to be able to consent and the child indeed consents and it's in the best interests of the child).

Supervised Visitation

If the court finds that there's abuse, then the child's safety must be addressed in the visitation order. The court may order:

  • Pick-ups and drop-offs of the child in a safe location or in the presence of a third party;
  • Visitation supervised by an appropriate person, visitation center, or agency;
  • Conditional visitation for an abusive parent or parent based on their attendance of a treatment program;
  • The parent to abstain from alcohol/controlled substances possession and consumption during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding visitation;
  • No overnight visitation; and/or
  • Appointment of a guardian ad litem for the child.

Grandparent Rights

Sometimes grandparents have the right to visitation. They may petition for visitation rights under specific circumstances. They must prove the following:

  • That the visitation is in the grandchild's best interest;
  • That they had a significant relationship with the child prior to visitation proceeding; and
  • That not allowing visitation would be harmful to the child.

Contents of Child Visitation Schedule

The child's visitation schedule includes:

  • A residential schedule;
  • A holiday schedule; and
  • A vacation schedule.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Visitation Laws and Rights: Related Resources

Questions about Massachusetts Visitation Rights? Contact an Attorney

Understanding your visitation rights in Massachusetts can be confusing, but it's important for both you and your child to be aware of the laws that greatly impact your lives. Contact a skilled Massachusetts attorney for assistance.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.