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How do I exercise my parenting rights in Massachusetts, if the custodial parent is denying me access to my child?

West Springfield, MA |

I was 15 when my daughter was born and her mom was 18. After 2 and a half years we lost contact. I just recently found them and made contact and the mother keeps trying to make meeting my daughter as hard as possible. So I filed a complaint for Support Custody Visitation only for visitation. I understand I'm going to be paying child support, but the mother wants back child support even though there is a document signed by her to get the support dropped. The mother has legal council, I do not, so I would like to know what my rights are to represent myself. Thank you for your time.

Today I went to court and the copy of the order of cancellation of support was all of a sudden missing. They showed me the order when i was in court last month and now they have no record of it. The lawyer and the child's mother were winking and laughing after mediation. The mediation went no where, and then we went in front of the judge and her legal council spoke when she wanted to and i was left floundering trying to speak my peace but the lawyer kept moving it along. Also the said lawyer called me and wanted me to drop my case for visitation and said that if not then she was going to keep stalling and pushing this back. I'm looking into pro bono lawyers but keeping my fingers crossed for a little luck in that department.

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Representing yourself in this type of situation is not a good idea. Assuming paternity has been established, the Court will look to the conduct of the parties to determine a proper schedule between you and the child. Usually all of the events of the past come up during this process. The age of the child is of paramount importance to the Court to help determine the child's ability to establish a new relationship with a parent. If there is a negative history sometimes the Court will look to supervised visitation or even an investigation. If there is no negative history than the Court will look to establish the relationship through scheduling time based upon the age of the child. Usually it is a gradual schedule building more time as the relationship builds. Talk to a qualified, experienced attorney regarding these matters.

Lloyd Godson www.bostonllp.com

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3 lawyers agree

Posted

In order to assert your parental rights, you will need to file a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity if your name is not on the birth certificate with a petition for custody or visitation. Because the mother has an attorney, it may be a good idea for you to consult a family law attorney before any hearings. As for the back support agreement, it is hard to say what effect, if any, it has in court and it is a bit unclear what you mean by she dropped the support. The court will determine child support based on the child support guidelines and custody or visitation, absent agreement otherwise, will be determined by the court based on what is in the best interests of the child. Again, I strongly recommend consulting an attorney and best of luck.

Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. (It lets us know how we are doing.) Attorney Kremer is licensed to practice in Massachusetts. Please visit her Avvo profile for contact information. In accordance with Avvo guidelines, the following disclaimer applies to all responses given in this forum: The above is NOT legal advice, and is NOT intended to be legal advice. No Attorney-Client relationship is created through the above answer.

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5 comments

Asker

Posted

She went to court and had the child support order dropped. She didn't want me to pay support anymore. I believe it was a motion to drop the support order. It is on file at the couthouse.

Emma A. Kremer

Emma A. Kremer

Posted

Even though she did that, you still have the right to file a petition for custody or visitation. I'm not sure if you will still have to pay back support unless she dropped her complaint for that too.

Asker

Posted

well I recieved a letter from her lawyer that she's trying to get back support and trying to have me pay her legal fees. I don't make that much money. I can't afford legal council. I did speak to a lawyer and she told me that i probably wouldn't have to pay the back support. I hope she's right because I'm a landscaper and only work 4 months or so every year and the mother is an accountant. Her lawyer asked for every finacial statement I've ever recieved since 2008. This whole situation is frustrating because Ijust want an opportunity to meet my child. I've offered her support and money if she needed anything for school she initially agreed to $50 a week then Isent her the second check and then she sent them back.

Asker

Posted

I'm sorry, I meant Iget layed off for 4 months every year! Sorry, completely frustrating situatuion!

Emma A. Kremer

Emma A. Kremer

Posted

No need to apologize. I'm sure this is very hard on you and you are only trying to do the right thing by your child. If you cannot find an attorney who will take your case pro bono, at no cost, and she is represented by counsel and seeking legal fees, I have a feeling that the judge is going to take it easy on you. I wish you the best of luck at your hearing.

Posted

If you have a court order file complaint for contempt ASAP


henry lebensbaum esq 300 Brickstone Sq Ste 201 andover, ma -- attorneylebensbaum@verizon.net (978) 749-3606.
Criminal Law (all courts), Drunk Driving, Drugs, Violence, Sex Offenses, theft, SORB, Divorce Child Custody Alimony Child Support & Modification, Contempts & Paternity Juveniles Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders, Business Law, Personal Injury, Guardianship, Conservatorship & Estate Administration & Legal Malpractice. For these & other areas, contact me. Email sent may be copied intercepted or held by computers.

Criminal Law (all misdemeanor & felonies in District and Superior Courts), Drunk Driving and Drug arrests, Sex Offenses, SORB, Crimes involving Violence or Theft, Domestic (Divorce, Child Custody, Alimony and Child Support) and Family Law (Modification, Contempts & Paternity), Juvenile Law, Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders, Business Law, Personal Injury claims, Probate Law (Guardianships, Conservatorships & Estate Administration) and Legal Malpractice. For these and other areas, contact me. NOTE: This preceding message DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship. It is not a protected or confidential communication. The statements made herein are not to be interpreted as representations or warranties of any kind. No reliance should be placed on the statements made herein. It is recommended that the recipient(s) should undertake their own research to reach their own opinion. The writer does not accept professional responsibility on this matter. TO CREATE an attorney-client relationship REQUIRES a signed retainer/fee agreement along with a retainer fee that must be received by my office.

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Posted

I essentially agree with Attorney Godson and would add that, in determining what is in the "best interests of the child" (the standard that the Court will apply), the Courts invariably order some form of visitation absent someone in your position having committed the most heinous crime against the other parent. In a non-marital case such as yours, the Court can order "back support" retroactively to the date of birth of your child. Because of the necessity of utilizing the Child Support Guidelines, that would require a determination of your and the mother's incomes since the date of birth - and that can be difficult to do. That difficulty plus the mother's agreement could well prevent an order for retroactive support. But keep in mind, the Courts sometimes will order retroactive support for a shorter period of time. The situation where retroactive support is most likely, though, is when the custodial parent has received public assistance for which the Department of Revenue (DOR) would seek reimbursement on behalf of the Department of Transitional Assistance. DOR may only be interested in the period of time that the public assistance was provided. I hope this helps.

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Posted

To answer your question, you have the right to represent yourself in court. It is not a good idea, and an attorney can give you your best possible chance at a good outcome.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on generalized Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. If you would like an attorney with Vaughn-Martel Law to review your specific situation and provide you with legal options or information specific to you, you may schedule a telephone or office by calling 617-357-4898 or visiting us at www.vaughnmartel.com. Our office charges $100.00 for a consultation, and applies your consultation fee to your first bill if the Firm is hired to perform further work.

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