If this is your first divorce, you may feel lost and overwhelmed by the process. If you have children, you probably have even more concerns about life after divorce. Most parents worry about child custody orders and fear the prospect of losing their kids altogether.
Family courts understand the many benefits children reap from lasting relationships with both parents, so they rarely separate them. Ultimately, the judge has the final say over child custody, but courts encourage parent participation.
Co-parents should strive to agree
Whenever possible, it is best for you and your co-parent to work out your child custody details together. This cooperative approach empowers parents to create an arrangement that benefits all parties. Advantages of making your own plan include the following:
- Providing more flexibility
- Meeting the specific needs of parents
- Improving parent-to-parent communications
- Allows parents to focus on their child’s unique needs
If the arrangement that co-parents agree on is in the child’s best interest, is fair and complies with Massachusetts law, the judge will likely approve it.
What if you cannot agree on child custody?
Unfortunately, not all parents can agree on a child custody arrangement. In these cases, judges do their best to make decisions that are fair to everyone while serving the best interests of the involved children. Factors they look at when addressing custody include:
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- Child involvement in the school and community
- Parental histories of violence, abuse, addiction, neglect or abandonment and other issues.
- If mature enough, the child’s custodial and parenting time preferences
- The relationship between the child and other family members (such as siblings and grandparents)
To help ensure a favorable outcome in all your divorce proceedings, learn more about child custody and other legal issues in divorce.