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Frequently asked questions about child custody in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2020 | Firm News

Navigating child custody issues is often complex for both parents. Whether you are seeking sole custody or are satisfied with sharing joint custody with your ex-spouse, it can still be extremely difficult to work out some of the details. The following are a few common questions and answers regarding child custody so you can make the right decisions.

Which custody arrangements are available?

There is a distinction between legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who has the authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including things like schooling or medical care. Legal custody can be shared, meaning both parents have an equal say, or it can be solely held, mean that only one parent is allowed to make these decisions. Physical custody can also be held solely or shared. If one parent receives sole physical custody, the other will receive visitation.

What criteria are used to make custody decisions?

All decisions by the court are made in the best interest of the child. That means that the health and well-being of the child at the center of the dispute will be held above the wants of the parents. Courts prefer to award joint custody since it is best for a child to have stable and loving relationships with both parents. However, instances of abuse and neglect will cause the court to award sole custody so that the child will be free from harm. In this case, supervised or unsupervised visitation may be awarded to the non-custodial parent until issues can be investigated further.

What happens during supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation involves the child, the non-custodial parent, and a third party to monitor the visit. A third party is typically a person both parents feel comfortable with, such as a family member. It can also be a social worker in some cases. The person monitoring the visits has the authority to end the visit if he or she feels it is in the best interests of the child.