Although you can't predict what will happen in Massachusetts custody cases, you should draft standard language in custody agreements and court orders that will address common problems that arise in joint legal and physical custody situations. Doing so will help align parental expectations and minimize conflict for children.
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.