Skip to main content

Can a parent visit their children if there is a restraining order protecting the other parent?

In a recent Supreme Court decision, Moreno vs. Naranjo, SJC-11070 (2013) , the SJC dismissed an appeal as moot for a 209A order that had expired, but addressed the underlying issue anyway in order to provide guidance to District Court judges.  In Moreno the District Court judge had considered the impact of the order on visitation and had ordered a 6 month order instead of 1 year because of the likely impact of the order on the relationship between the defendant and the child.  The SJC indicated that this consideration was improper.

In deciding the length of an order, the only consideration should be the "time reasonably necessary to protect from abuse the plaintiff or any child in the plaintiff's care or custody."   This doesn't mean that an order can't include provisions for visitation, but only that the impact the order has on visitation shouldn't affect the choice to issue the order or for how long.  That choice is dependent solely on the necessity of the order to provide protection from abuse to the plaintiff.

When a restraining order, also know in Massachusetts as a section 209A Abuse Prevention Order, is obtained by a Plaintiff, it will include orders relating to children if the parties have minor children together.  Usually a 209A restraining order will order the Defendant to stay away from any children and award custody of the children to the Plaintiff.

In Massachusetts, the District Court issues most 209A restraining orders but the Probate & Family Court can as well.  Provisions relating to minor children can be amended to allow visitation, but typically the District Court would prefer that the Probate & Family Court deal with those provisions.  If a party requests a parenting time schedule from the Probate & Family Court, the Judge in that court can amend the restraining order through a process we discussed in this previous post.

The provisions relating to visiting the children don't change the orders preventing abuse of the parent, but practical considerations (like pick-up and drop-off of the children) may need to be considered to avoid violation of no-contact provisions.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent&#

What happens after my Divorce Agreement is approved by a Judge?

If you filed a Joint Petition for Divorce in Massachusetts then you will participate in an uncontested divorce hearing and the Judge will then issue Findings of Fact the day of the hearing.  A Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue after thirty (30) days, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Joint Petition for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 120 days after the divorce hearing date. If you filed a Complaint for Divorce  then your case will end either with a trial (if you don't settle) or an uncontested divorce hearing (if you settle).  If you reach an Agreement, then a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and be effective as of the date of the uncontested divorce hearing, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Complaint for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 90 days after the divorce hearing date. Therefore, for 90 - 120 day