Asked in Child Custody, Child Support and Family Law for Massachusetts

Q: Can the courts force me to visit my child? I pay support fully and on time, but I absolutely refuse to visit.

At this point I’m considering a restraining order against my ex, we agreed that I didn’t have to visit as long as I paid support. But she started trying to force me to visit, she shows up at my house with the kid occasionally. Last time I called the police and they made her leave but she’s threatening to take me to court to make me visit. Can the courts force me to visit?

3 Lawyer Answers
Kelley Anne Joseph
Kelley Anne Joseph
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Plantation, FL

A: While I practice in Florida, not Mass., in most states, courts cannot “force” a parent, against his or her will, to spend time with a child, but many can sanction a parent for their refusal, in some way, as forcing you seems contrary to the child’s best interest. Further, the court can consider it if the other parent seeks an upward modification of child support, especially if it was presumed you’d exercise timesharing when calculated. If you do not want to visit with the child due to a negative history with the other parent,, don’t let that stop you from pursuing the relationship with your child. Seek the advice of a local family law attorney about your concerns and possible remedies, such as how to effectuate timesharing without having to have in person, or telephonic contact with the other parent.

There’s a chance you will have a change of heart in the future, and regret this. You should take the time now to decide if you want some kind of relationship with your child, before it is too late. It will be more difficult to convince a judge to permit you timesharing with your child in the future, if you refuse a relationship now, as the court’s main concern will be what is in the child’s best interest, above everything else. Your absence from the child’s life will most likely have an impact on your child’s development, and potentially long term in his or her life, so please make sure this is what you want. Take some time to figure out what you really want before making this kind of decision, and speak with a family law attorney in your area about it. Good luck.

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Woburn, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: If you do not already have an order to visit pursuant to a schedule in place, then you would not be in Contempt for failure to visit. However, if you do not exercise visitation with the child which has been determined by abundant research to be in the child's best interest for their emotional health and development ( barring there being a problem such as your unsuitability and risk to the child- i.e. , history of abuse- violence or sexual, neglect drug or alcohol or substance abuse. ) The other parent can seek additional child support to assist them for not having a break from child care which the Court finds of importance as well.

Tanesha R Wright
Tanesha R Wright
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Boston, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: The Court cannot force you to visit your child. They can give you parenting time, which you may exercise, but you are not required to use it. However, as other attorneys have pointed out there are issues that may arise for you not visiting your child. Your ex has a right to more child support as the child will be in her care 100% of the time and you may end up having a hard time in the future if you wanted to see your child and had a change of heart.

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