The Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts have wide discretion in making child custody orders and thus the results are not predictable with any level of certainty. The courts are guided by a child's best interest in making an initial custody order. Courts make orders relative to physical custody and legal custody. The parties are encouraged to reach agreements between themselves without court intervention.
Finding the right arrangement for sharing custody with your former spouse isn't always easy in Massachusetts. When work schedules change, you or your spouse moves to a new location, or your child's after-school activities change, you may need to renegotiate how your time with your child is shared. While Massachusetts courts consider applications to modify custody, these applications are not easily granted.
When it comes to child custody arrangements in Massachusetts, there are numerous myths that typically affect a parent's rationale. Working out your divorce or paternity case custody related arrangement based on such myths can not only leave you unduly stressed, but also influencing an unfavorable final decision.
In Massachusetts, the degree to which the conduct of a parent can affect acustody award depends on many factors, and goes beyond whether or not a parent has a criminal conviction. Certain serious felonies and domestic violence weigh heavily against awarding custody, but evidence of parental fitness may overcome this.
The little-noticed provision in the new Marijuana Legalization Law states that parents' marijuana use, possession, and cultivation can't be the primary basis for taking away custody or other parental rights like visitation - unless there is "clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person's actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety" of a child.
If you are currently facing or have already started a child custody case, one of the best tools you can have is a 'custody journal'. What is a custody journal? It's a journal you create solely for the purpose of documenting all the aspects of daily life to support your child custody claims in family court. It is important that this journal not be part of any other personal journal, as it is very likely portions of it may become part of the public record depending on the facts in your case.
Today, fathers can stand on equal footing with mothers in contested custody cases in Massachusetts. However, there are things that dads can do to help and to hurt their chances in a custody case.