Getting a Parenting Time or Visitation Order

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last Updated March, 2017

If you are a parent and you need to ask the court for a Parenting Time or Visitation Order, use a complaint, the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding,  a motion, an affidavit, a proposed order, or a 209A complaint.

Sometimes you need to file more than one of these forms. Sometimes you only need to file one. You use different forms if you are not safe or your children are not safe.

If the other parent files a complaint about parenting time or visitation, you should file an answer.

If you are not worried about health or safety

If you are worried about health or safety

Asking for a Parenting Time Order with a complaint

Asking for Supervised Parenting Time or Supervised Visitation if you are served with a summons and complaint

Asking for Parenting Time or Visitation in a Motion

Motion for Parenting Time

Motion for Supervised Parenting Time

Motion for Visitation at a Supervised Visitation Center

Motion for Visitation Supervised by an Individual

Asking for Visitation in a 209A Restraining Order Case

If you are not worried about health or safety

Ongoing cases

An ongoing case is a case that is still in court. There is no final judgment. The judge has not yet made a final decision.

If you are in an ongoing court case like Divorce, Paternity, Separate Support, or a Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) case, and you need a Parenting Time or Visitation Order, use a Motion and a Proposed Order.

Read John and Jane Doe’s story.

No ongoing case

There is no ongoing case if the court has already made a final judgment in a case between you and the other parent or there is no case in court right now between you and the other parent.

If

  • you are not in an ongoing case with the other parent,
  • there is no visitation or parenting time order, and
  • you need  a Parenting Time Order,

file a complaint like Separate Support, or Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C). If you also need a divorce, or your child has no legal father, you would file a complaint for Divorce or Paternity. In the complaints you can also ask for a Parenting Time Order . You must also file the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding.

If you are served with a complaint, file an answer.

If you are worried about health or safety

If you are worried about your safety or your child’s safety you can ask the court for a

  • Parenting Time Order,
  • Visitation Order,
  • Supervised Parenting Time Order, or
  • Supervised Visitation Order.

Ongoing cases

  • If you are in an ongoing case like Divorce, Paternity, Separate Support, or Custody-Support-Parenting Time  and you want your child to be safe with the other parent, file a Motion, a Proposed Order, and Affidavit in Support of the Motion.  Read Rosa’s story
  • If you are in an ongoing case like Divorce, Paternity, Separate Support, or Custody-Support-Parenting Time and you also have to deal with domestic violence, file
    • a Motion, a Proposed Order, and Affidavit in Support of the Motion. Read Julie’s story. Or
    • a 209A Complaint for Protection from Abuse in the Probate and Family Court. Read Martha’s story.
  • If you have been served with a summons and complaint, you need to file an answer. In your answer you can say you need supervised parenting time or visitation. See Jill’s story.

No ongoing case

There is no ongoing case if the court has already made a final judgment in a case between you and the other parent or there is no case in court right now between you and the other parent.

If

  • you are not in an ongoing case with the other parent,
  • there is no visitation or parenting time order, and
  • you need a Parenting Time Order, Supervised Parenting Time Order, or Supervised Visitation Order

file a complaint and the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding. Usually complaints take a long time to get through the court system. Motions do not take as long. So in addition to filing a complaint, also file

  • a Motion for Parenting Time together with
  • a Proposed Order. 

Read Kate’s story.

If you need a restraining order, you can ask for supervised visitation in your 209A complaint. Read Lisa’s story.

Important

If you have been served with a summons and complaint, you need to file an answer. In your answer you can say you need supervised parenting time or visitation. See Jill’s story.

Asking for a Parenting Time Order with a complaint

In Kate and Carl's situation:

  • the parents are not in an ongoing case,
  • there is no visitation or parenting time order, and
  • they need a Parenting Time Order.

Carl and Kate are not married. They have an 8 year old son, Louis. Carl and Kate signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage, so Carl is Louis’ legal father. But Carl and Kate never went to court so Kate has sole custody of Louis.

Carl, Kate, and Louis have lived together as a family for the past 8 years. Carl has been a good father, but during the last few years he began to suffer from severe mood swings.  Sometimes he would be so depressed he could not get up and go to work or take Louis to school. Sometimes he would be uncontrollably excited. He could not focus on his job or his family. He sometimes sees a therapist. But he does not always take his medication so Kate cannot count on him. Carl and Kate agreed that he needed to move out and get professional care.

Carl wants to spend time with Louis. Kate also wants them to spend time together, but she thinks that Carl is completely unrealistic about how his mood swings affect Louis. Sometimes Kate thinks Louis might not be safe when he is with Carl. Kate thinks she and Carl need to agree about Carl’s parenting time.

Kate can file a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) to ask for Carl to have parenting time.  When Kate files her complaint, she must also file an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding. The form tells the court if there are already any court orders about your child. It also tells the court if any judge is making decisions about your child now.

Usually complaints take a long time to get through the court system, Motions do not take as long. So in addition to filing a complaint, Kate can also file a Motion for Parenting Time Order to ask that Carl have parenting time. She would also file a Proposed Order and an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Parenting Time Order.

If you file a complaint like Divorce, Separate Support, Paternity, or Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) asking for parenting time as well as the Affidavit Disclosing Care but you need to get an order right away, file:

Asking for Supervised Parenting Time or Supervised Visitation if you are served with a summons and complaint

In Jack and Jill's situation:

  • there is no visitation or parenting time order, and
  • the parents need a Parenting Time Order or a Supervised Parenting Time Order.

Jack and Jill are not married. They have a 3 year old daughter, Sally. Jill and Jack signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage. But Jack and Jill never went to court so Jill has sole custody of Sally.

Jack and Sally really enjoy each other’s company. They have fun together. Jill believes Jack has a lot to offer Sally. He takes her to the park, reads to her, plays games with her, and they watch her TV shows together. But Jack often forgets Sally is even there.  He forgets to take her with him when he runs errands.  When he was watching TV or playing computer games, Sally has wandered off and Jack did not know where she was or what she was doing.

Jill wants Sally to have a relationship with her dad. Jack wants to be part of Sally’s life and Sally wants to spend time with him. Jack is a lot of fun.

Jill is sure Jack cannot look after Sally by himself.  She told him that he cannot spend time with Sally anymore on his own. Jill needs the time Jack spends with Sally to be supervised. Jack does not think he needs supervision.

Jack has filed a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) to ask for parenting time.

When Jill gets served with Jack’s filed complaint, she files an Answer. See  the answer that Jill might file. She also has to file an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings. The form tells the court if there are already any court orders about your child. It also tells the court if any judge is making decisions about your child now.In addition to filing her Answer Jill can also file a Motion for Supervised Parenting Time to ask that Jack’s mother Irene be present when he is with Sally.

Jill would also file a Proposed Order and an Affidavit in Support of Supervised Parenting Time.

If you are served with a summons and complaint and you need to ask for supervised parenting time, file:

Asking for Parenting Time or Visitation in a Motion

If you are in an ongoing court case and there is no Parenting Time or Visitation Order, ask for one by filing a motion and proposed order for parenting time or visitation.

Motion for Parenting Time

Here is a situation where

  • the parent that the child lives with wants the other parent to have parenting time, but
  • the parents cannot agree on a schedule.

Jane and John are getting divorced. They have two children who live with Jane. Both parents want John to have parenting time with their children, but they have not been able to agree on a parenting time schedule or on which one of them will be responsible for transportation. Their work schedules are the problem. Jane has a lawyer, but John does not.  To ask for a parenting time order, John files a Motion for Parenting Time and Proposed Order for Parenting Time like our samples.

If are in an ongoing case and you need to ask for parenting time, file:

Motion for Supervised Parenting Time

Rosa’s situation is where:

  • there is no domestic violence,
  • the parents are getting divorced,
  • she needs the visits to be supervised, and
  • she does not need or want to use a supervised visitation center.

Ramon and Rosa separated and are getting a divorce. They have a 5 year old son, Jose. Jose lives with Rosa. They have filed divorce papers but have not agreed on a parenting time schedule.

Rosa wants Jose to have a relationship with his dad. Ramon wants to be part of Jose’s life and Jose wants to spend time with him. Ramon is a lot of fun. He takes Jose to the beach and baseball games and plays catch with him. But sometimes Ramon forgets Jose is there or that you cannot leave a 5 year old on the beach alone while you in the water.

Rosa does not think Ramon is grown up enough to look after Jose by himself.  He is very impulsive and absent minded. He can spend hours playing on the computer or watching sports on TV. Ramon does not know how to cook or put a meal on the table. He does not do laundry or housework. Rosa needs Ramon to have supervised parenting time with Jose.

She would file a Motion for Supervised Parenting Time, A Proposed Order, and an Affidavit in Support of Supervised Parenting Time.

If you are in an ongoing case and you need to ask for parenting time supervised by an individual, file:

Motion for Visitation at a Supervised Visitation Center

In George and Martha's situation:

  • domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues are part of the mix;
  • the parents are getting divorced; and
  • one parent was afraid the other parent was harming their children and visitation needed to be supervised.

George and Martha have been married for 8 years. They have 2 boys, James is 7 years old and Freddy is 5.  George has become more and more abusive.  At first, when came home from work after a bad day if his dinner was not ready or the house not clean to his liking he would yell at Martha or throw things at her. Martha was getting really depressed and she stopped caring about how she looked. George started punching and slapping her, to beat “some sense into her” as he put it. The children often witnessed their father’s outbursts.  George was having trouble at work and it looked like he might get fired. He started drinking before he came home from his job, Once, when George came home from work, after stopping in first at the neighborhood bar, he started screaming at Martha for serving spinach for dinner. He threw the plate at her, but it hit James and cut his face. Martha told George to leave at once. “Go live with your brother,” she demanded. He did. Over the next week George telephoned Martha every day.  He demanded that she do his laundry and let him take the children over to his brother’s house, for some “parenting time” as he put it.  George’s brother was an out-of-work roofer with a serious drug habit.  Martha got a restraining order that ordered George not to abuse her, not to contact her, and to stay 100 yards away from her and their house. The order gave Martha custody of the children and ordered George not to contact them.  The order was in effect for a year, but George kept telephoning the children, often after he’d been drinking. He’d tell the boys that he hated Martha. He would tell them he needed to see them, and that if he couldn’t see them he might kill himself. James and Freddy keep telling Martha they want to see their father. She feels under a lot of pressure., After a month, Martha filed for a divorce. She did not have a lawyer.  She read about supervised visitation decided to file a Motion for Visitation at a Supervised Visitation Center. She also filed an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Visitation at a Supervised Visitation Center and a Proposed Order for Visitation at a Supervised Visitation Center.

If are in an ongoing case and you need to ask for visitation at a supervised visitation center, file:

Motion for Visitation Supervised by an Individual 

Here are two stories where people are asking for visitation supervised by an individual. Julie is dealing with domestic violence. Rosa is not.

In Julie’s situation:

  • there is domestic violence,
  • the parents are getting divorced,
  • the survivor wants the abusive parent to have visitation,
  • she needs the visits to be supervised, and
  • she does not need or want to use a supervised visitation center.

David Jones filed a Complaint for Divorce against his wife Julie.  They have a 9 year old son named Jason.  A month before he filed, David got fired from his job after punching his boss. When he came home, he had been drinking. He saw a car he did not recognize parked in front of the house. He suspected Julie was having an affair. When he came into the house he yelled at Julie, called her names, and slapped her.  This was not the first time David had done this. Julie was really scared.  She tried to dial 911, but David grabbed the phone and hit her with it.  When Jason got home from school, Julie and David pretended that nothing had happened. Later, when David went out, Jason asked Julie about the bruises and the broken telephone. Julie told her son what had happened. She decided that it would not be safe for either of them if they were there when David got home, so Julie took Jason and went to stay with a friend.  The next day she got a 209A restraining order that ordered David to leave the house, not to abuse her, not to contact her, and to stay 100 yards away from her, their house, and her workplace. The restraining order gave her custody of Jason. Two weeks later, after the restraining order had been extended for a year, David served her with divorce papers asking for custody of Jason. He scheduled a Motion for Temporary Custody. She does not think it would be at all good for Jason for David to have custody of Jason. However Jason misses David a lot.  He keeps telling Julie about how much he misses doing the things he and David used to do together, like watch sports on TV and go to the playground after David would come home from work. Julie thinks that because David is so angry and unpredictable that visitation needs to be supervised by someone she trusts.  She worries about David’s drinking and what David will say to Jason when they are alone. Julie does not think that something so formal as a supervised visitation center is needed.  She thinks that Jason needs to be able to spend more time with David than a supervised visitation center could provide. She has a very good relationship with David’s mother, Sheila, and so does Jason. She talked to Sheila about a supervised visitation schedule, and Sheila was very agreeable. To ask for visitation supervised by David’s mother, she could file a Motion for Visitation Supervised by an Individual, Affidavit in Support of Motion for Supervised Visitation, and Defendant’s Proposed Order for Supervised Visitation, like our samples.

If you need to ask for visitation supervised by an individual in an ongoing case, you need to file:

Asking for Visitation in a 209A Restraining Order Case

In a 209A case

  • Only the Plaintiff can ask for a visitation order.
  • Only the Probate and Family Court can order visitation.

Here is a situation where

  • domestic violence and alcohol abuse are involved, and
  • the survivor wants the abusive parent to visit with their son, but
  • she needs the court to make visitation safe.

Lisa Smith is married to Frank Smith. They have a 6 year old named Joe.  Yesterday, Frank punched Lisa in the face and took the keys to her car.  He was getting more and more violent and recently had his driver’s license taken away for “driving under the influence.”

Lisa needs a 209A restraining order.  She wants the court to order some visitation between Frank and Joe. She needs Frank’s visitation to be supervised, but she does not need to use a supervised visitation center. She needs to make sure Frank does not pick up or drop off Joe for the visits. It is not safe if Frank comes anywhere near her, and she does not want Joe in a car with Frank. She trusts Frank’s mother and his brother. Lisa can ask the court to order safe visitation in her 209A Complaint. Lisa would fill out the Complaint for Protection from Abuse.  When Lisa files her complaint, she must also file an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding. The form tells the court if there are already any court orders about your child. It also tells the court if any judge is making decisions about your child now.

If you need to ask for visitation in a 209A restraining order case, you need to file:

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