When parents separate or divorce in Massachusetts, custody and parenting time are two of the biggest concerns that arise. In most instances, parents genuinely want to ensure they can spend as much time as possible with their children in spite of living in separate households. In some other instances, one ex may simply want to use the children as pawns in a game of revenge and spite.
Parenting time may first begin with custody determinations. According to the Massachusetts state website, parents can file for either joint or sole custody of their children. Either or both parents may file for this. In some instances, guardians and caregivers may also petition for custody.
When children are born outside of a marriage, the father may need to first establish paternity to get rights. In some instances, a father may have already signed a voluntary acknowledgment form at the birth of the child. He may also file for paternity in court. Due in part to the complications of establishing paternity outside of marriage, unmarried mothers have sole custody of their children until a court decides otherwise.
In instances of shared physical custody, a child custody order determines how much time the children spend with each parent. Some parents pursue a 50/50 split. However, in most instances, children tend to spend much more time with one parent than the other. They may see the second parent on weekends and holidays.
The Massachusetts state website points out that another factor affecting eligibility is residency. The child may need to reside in the state for at least six months prior to either parent petitioning the state for custodial rights or parenting time. Child custody arrangements generally last until children are 21 to 23 years old, depending on specific circumstances.