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Asking for a Parenting Time Order with a complaint

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Created March 2017

Important reminder

  1. Only start a case in court if you need a court order.
  2. Once you start a case, the other parent can bring up other issues that concern them, like custody or child support or domestic violence. If you file a case, the other parent can file their own case to respond to yours.
  3. Even if you are not worried about health or safety, the other parent might be.
  4. If you are not sure if you need to file a case, talk to a lawyer.

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. Kate thinks she and Carl need to agree about Carl’s parenting time and she can also ask the court to require Carl to continue to get treatment.

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 affidavit 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 ask for Parenting Time in a complaint like:

You also need to file an Affidavit Disclosing Care.

If you need to get an order right away, file:

See Asking for Parenting Time or Visitation in a Motion.

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