In Massachusetts, the child does not get to determine visiting a parent if there is a legal order. The court, however, may factor in the child’s input and reasoning behind it. The older the child is and more importantly the more mature and informed their decisions are, the more weight the court is likely to give to the child.

The court usually does not want children to testify at court, but there are mechanisms whether it is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or what is called a “Family Service Officer or Probation Officer” doing an investigation; an ARC Attorney being appointed for the child; if DCF is involved and DCF reporting what the child has to say or other ways. The child’s viewpoint can be expressed to the court and in a large part it depends on the reasoning that the child has and the age. 

At 18 a child can choose where they want to live; if they want to live with either parent; or spend time with either parent before the child does not have unilateral decision-making. On the other hand, if there is a 17-year-old child who does not want to go see one of the parents, the court is likely going to follow the older the child is the more rational their decision is, and the more weight the court’s likely to give to the child.