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When a non-custodial parent fails to exercise designated time

In many Massachusetts divorces involving children, one parent is designated as the custodial parent, and the other is designated as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is usually awarded some amount of visitation time. That time can range from a few hours during the week all the way up to several days and nights per week. When the non-custodial parent fails to exercise their right to this time, it can cause several problems for the child and the custodial parent.

One of the biggest problems with a non-custodial parent missing designated visitation time is that it can cause confusion. The child may wonder why the parent is not around. The child's feelings may be hurt and he or she may suffer from emotional issues. Missing time can also cause financial issues. The required child support may be based on how much time each parent would spend with the child. If the custodial parent has the child for more time than expected, he or she may need to pay for more food, activity costs and childcare expenses.

When a non-custodial parent misses time, the custodial parent has a few options. One could seek to modify the visitation agreement, reducing the amount of designated time. However, that could lead to hard feelings and complex issues. If possible, the custodial parent could also reach out to the non-custodial parent to better understand the problem and see if some kind of agreement could be reached.

Many divorce experts say that modifying the agreement and designated time may cause more problems than it resolves. In many cases, the custodial parent and non-custodial parent may be best served by coming to an agreement that requires the non-custodial parent to either exercise his or her time or compensate the custodial parent with additional support. An experienced divorce attorney could help a parent better navigate this complicated issue.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Visitation Rights FAQ," Accessed on Jan. 21, 2015

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