Dover Child Custody Lawyer
One of the hardest and most emotionally fraught aspects of any break-up is figuring out who will have custody of your shared kids. Whether you were married or dating, it can be difficult to come to an agreement about where your kids will live and who has the authority to make decisions for them.
In Massachusetts, decisions about custody are made in the best interests of the child or children. While there are factors that a court will take into consideration in making this determination, there is no set formula for custody. An experienced Dover child custody attorney can advocate for you and help you obtain a more favorable result for you and your children.
At Infinity Law Group, we offer skilled, compassionate legal representation to individuals and families in Dover, MA. We know that custody cases can be incredibly stressful for our clients, which is why we work hard to not only educate our clients about their rights but to get the best possible outcome. Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our child custody lawyers.
Types of Custody in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are two types of custody: legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to participate in major decisions about a child’s life, such as where they will go to school and the type of medical treatment that they will receive. Physical custody is the time that a child resides with or is under the care of each parent.
Courts can award sole or joint physical or legal custody or some combination of both. In Massachusetts, joint custody is known as shared custody.
With shared legal custody, both parents are responsible for and have a say in decisions related to a child’s medical care, education, emotional, religious, and moral development. For example, if parents have shared legal custody, they will both get to take part in decisions about issues like childhood vaccinations. Legal custody is usually shared unless there is a good reason for one parent to have primary legal custody.
Shared physical custody means that a child will live with both parents, in a schedule that the parties agree to or one that is set by the court. This does not necessarily mean that time between parents is equally divided.
In some cases, parents will share legal custody but one parent will have primary physical custody. In this situation, the other parent will have a parenting time (visitation) schedule. The goal of these arrangements is to ensure that the child or children can have a relationship with the non-custodial parent.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child. There is no list of specific factors that a court must consider in deciding what is in a child’s best interests, which means that judges have a fair amount of discretion in making these determinations.
The court will primarily look at the child’s welfare and happiness when making a custody decision. They can take into consideration a range of factors, including:
- Each parent’s ability to provide the child with basic necessities such as food and shelter;
- The child’s home, school, and community record;
- The child’s relationship with each parent;
- Whether there is any history of domestic abuse or child neglect;
- Each parent’s moral fitness;
- Both parents’ physical and mental health;
- Any adverse effects the child’s present or past living conditions may have had on their physical and emotional health;
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent; and
- Any other relevant factor.
Typically, a court will order temporary joint legal custody at the start of a divorce case unless there is something to indicate that this would not be in a child’s best interests. Beyond the initial temporary order, there is no presumption of shared legal or physical custody in Massachusetts. However, there is a presumption against awarding sole or shared legal or physical custody to a parent who is considered abusive.
Because courts have so much discretion in determining custody, many parents prefer to work out a parenting agreement outside of court. This can be done between the parties and their attorneys, or through mediation. Working out a parenting plan through a form of alternative dispute resolution can often be less expensive and less stressful, and lead to a better outcome for your child(ren).
Of course, it isn’t always possible to come to an agreement with your ex. In this situation, your Dover child custody lawyer will work with experts, gather evidence, and make arguments before the court to support your claim for custody.
Talk to a Dover Child Custody Attorney about Your Case
Child custody cases can be incredibly difficult for everyone involved, from the parents to the children to extended family and friends. These cases are often highly contentious as each parent fights for what they believe to be best for their child or children. A seasoned Dover child custody lawyer can help you reach an agreement with your ex – or will advocate for your interests in court.
Infinity Law Group has significant experience in all types of family law matters, including child custody. We collaborate with our clients to help achieve the best possible outcome for them and their children. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Dover family law attorney, give us a call at 617-249-6785 or fill out our online contact form.
My Ex Has Addiction Issues. How Can I Protect Our Kids?
If one parent suffers from substance abuse disorder, it is often a factor in making custody decisions. If the parties cannot agree to a parenting time plan that keeps the kids safe, then the case will go to court. A judge may order a parent to go through drug and alcohol testing if they are accused of having addiction issues.
If there is a determination that a parent is an alcoholic or a drug addict and that the kids would be unsafe with them, the court will typically order supervised visitation. These cases can be especially hard because one parent may worry that seeking sole custody will make their ex’s addiction issues worse. A Dover child custody attorney with specific experience in these types of cases can help you protect your children.
Is It True That Mothers Get Preference in Child Custody Cases?
No. There is a common misconception that mothers are favored in child custody cases. However, in Massachusetts, there is no preference given to a parent based solely on their gender. If the matter goes to trial, the court will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child or children.
Child custody matters can be complex, and a lot is left to the discretion of the judge. Having a committed Dover child custody attorney by your side can help you protect your rights and your family. Reach out to Infinity Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.