What To Expect When You’Re Expecting: How Child Custody Is Determined In Massachusetts

pregnant couple

There is no one-size-fits-all equation for child custody in Massachusetts. Every family’s situation is unique and the courts will look at many different factors to determine what type of custody arrangement will work best. Here at Ryder and Phelps, we will work to help you achieve the child custody arrangement that works best for you and your family. We understand how important child custody is to you and we are here to assist you in figuring out the best path moving forward. Here are some important considerations when it comes to child custody: 

Different Types of Custody 

There are two types of child custody; legal and physical. Legal custody relates to which parent gets to be responsible for the major decision-making in the child’s life. Physical custody relates to which parent the child spends the majority of their time with. Here is how Massachusetts defines these custodial arrangements: 

  • Sole legal custody—one parent shall have the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.
  • Shared legal custody—continued mutual responsibility and involvement by both parents in major decisions regarding the child’s welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.
  • Sole physical custody—a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to reasonable visitation by the other parent, unless the court determines that such visitation would not be in the best interest of the child.
  • Shared physical custody—a child shall have periods of residing with and being under the supervision of each parent; provided, however, that physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure a child frequent and continued contact with both parents.

Best Interest of the Child: 

The standard which the courts use to determine child custody is the “best interest of the child” standard. Essentially, the courts will try to create a custody arrangement that promotes what is best for your child. There are many different factors which weigh into the best interests of the child. Here are just some of the most common: 

  1. The age and developmental stage of the child; 
  2. The involvement of both parents in the child’s life; 
  3. Which parent has been the primary caregiver to the child; 
  4. The child’s relationship with each parent; 
  5. The child’s relationship with siblings and the community; 
  6. The adjustments the child will have to make;
  7. The wishes of the child; 
  8. Each parent’s home environment; 
  9. The parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate concerning the child’s well being;  and 
  10. The physical and mental health of the parents and the child. 

Our team hopes that this information can help you begin to navigate the big-picture concepts surrounding child custody. Further questions? Give us a call! You can reach us at 978-957-7000 or you can email our Legal Assistant Matt at matthew@ryderlaw.net to set up a consultation with an Attorney at our office. 

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