Divorce is described as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add children to the mix, coupled with questions of custody, support, and visitation, and emotions and stress can reach a breaking point. Wading through this difficult time calls for the help of a professional such as a divorce & family law attorney who also understands laws specific to Massachusetts.
Before you meet with an attorney, here are few pieces of information about child custody in Massachusetts that you’ll need to know in order to develop questions pertaining to your situation.
Two primary forms of child custody in Massachusetts
Physical custody determines where a child will live during certain periods of time.
Legal custody determines which parent has authority to make major decisions as in the doctor the child sees, the school the child attends, and even in which faith to raise the child.
Sole vs. shared custody
Sole physical custody means a child lives with one parent who is ultimately responsible for the child’s day-to-day supervision. The other parent is allowed reasonable visitation unless the court rules that this would not be in the child’s best interest.
Shared physical custody allows both parents a shared responsibility in raising the child while the child resides equally with both.
Sole legal custody gives one parent all rights and responsibilities to make major decisions in the child’s life.
Shared legal custody gives both parents a share in making major decisions in the child’s upbringing
If parents can not agree on their own as to custody, then the courts will have to decide for them based on many factors such as the age of the child, mental and physical health of the child and parents, the emotional environment of each parent’s home, criminal or drug history of a parent if any, etc.
Massachusetts law states that both parents must support their child financially whether the parents are together or not. If a child lives mostly with one parent, then usually the other parent is required to pay support.
Contacting an experienced family law attorney will give you the answers you need. Contact our office for a case evaluation and get the advice you need to make the best of a difficult situation.