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Paternity Cases and Parenting Time or Visitation

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed July 2023

In a paternity case, the court can order parenting time for one of the parents.

If both parents have signed the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form and you need to go to court to get visitation rights, you file a Complaint for Support-Custody-Parenting Time and check the appropriate boxes in paragraph 7. You also file the Acknowledgment. 

If you are filing a Complaint to Establish Paternity and need a parenting time order, check off the appropriate box in paragraph 6.

The judge can make a temporary parenting time order while the case is going on. To get a temporary parenting time order, you file a motion along with an affidavit and a proposed order.

What if there has been domestic violence?

If the court decides that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred, it is not supposed to order parenting time. The court must provide for the safety and well-being of the child and the safety of the abused parent. It can order supervised visitation or other orders about the abusive parent visiting the child.

The "best interests of the child” law applies whether or not the parents are married to each other.

For more information see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209C, section 10.

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