A divorce has a profound effect on the children involved. When making a determination of whether the issue of custody should be raised in a divorce action, it is important to know the differences between legal and physical custody.
Legal and physical custody is defined in Massachusetts General Laws c. 208, § 31 as follows:
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 interests of the child; and
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’s frequent and continued contact with both parents.
In making an order or judgment relative to custody of children, the rights of the parents shall, in the absence of misconduct, be held to be equal, and the happiness and welfare of the children shall determine their custody.
For any couple with children, the discussion about child custody and parenting plans is typically the first issue they will want to talk about.
A parent who puts the needs of his or her children first may reap future benefits that outweigh the short term disadvantages.
Attorney Renee Lazar will provide guidance to minimize the conflict regarding the children and to provide a framework in which child related disputes can be managed in the least adversarial manner.