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Custodial parents often call the shots

After a divorce, a non-custodial parent in Massachusetts can face some serious challenges related to participating in the parenting process. While joint legal custody is commonly awarded, the party who has primary physical custody may use that position to limit the ex-spouse's access to the children. Even when the law and the parenting agreement provide for both parties to participate equally in making important decisions, the non-custodial parent can have trouble in learning about certain activities involving their children.

Bias in the court system can be an issue, creating difficulties in terms of the perceptions of non-custodial parents. Even when the non-custodial party endeavors to communicate and cooperate with the ex-spouse, there can be challenges because of the custodial party's reading of the parenting plan. While the plan might not prevent extra time with one's youngsters, custodial parents might point at the fact that they are not required to provide extra time as a justification for denying such a request.

It may help for both parties to remember that the long-term impact on a child can be more positive when both parents are able to communicate in a civil manner. The unanticipated consequences of denying the non-custodial parent extra time could be resentment from thechildren. It is true that a parenting plan may not address all potential custody issues, but good communication and cooperation can prove to be helpful in avoiding further court activity and in minimizing the stress and drama for the children in the future.

If a custodial parent interferes with the non-custodial party's visitation rights on a frequent basis, it might be helpful to have the assistance of an attorney in going back to court to obtain a modification. In an extreme case of interference, contact with the police could be necessary.

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