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Legal Information: Massachusetts


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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

What is the difference between custody and visitation?

Visitation allows a parent to visit with his/her child. How often the visits take place, where the visits take place, and whether or not the visits need to be supervised by another adult, will all be determined by the court.1

Unlike legal custody, visitation does not give a parent the right to make major decisions about the child’s well-being, including education or medical care matters. A parent must have either sole or shared legal custody in order to make those decisions.

Unlike physical custody, a child will not live long-term with a parent who has visitation rights. However, the child may be able to have overnight, weekend, or even longer visits with the parent, depending on what the judge decides.

1 M.G.L. 208 § 31; M.G.L. 209C § 10