Child Custody in Massachusetts
Massachusetts parents who are splitting up must come to a court-approved agreement on issues related to child custody and child support. Each parent should be represented by his or her own Massachusetts child custody attorney. Your lawyer can guide you through the custody process and help negotiate a child custody agreement.
Massachusetts Child Custody Basics
If you and your minor child's other parent are getting a divorce or have never been married, then it's in your best interest and your child's best interest to address child custody issues. These would include details such as:
- Establishing paternity, if it has not already been established
- Deciding how custody will be divided between each parent
- Creating a visitation schedule, if one parent has sole physical custody
- Deciding whether one parent should pay child support and how much should be paid
Massachusetts child custody courts: Child custody cases are heard in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts. If you are getting a divorce, your divorce judge will review and approve your child custody decisions. If you and your child's other parent were never married, then you or your Massachusetts child custody lawyer will file a Complaint for Support-Custody-Visitation to begin child custody proceedings.
Massachusetts parent education: After filing the initial complaint with the court, both parents must attend a mandatory parent education program before any custody hearings can proceed.
Types of Massachusetts child custody: Under Massachusetts law, there are two types of child custody: Legal custody and physical custody. A parent with legal custody has the right and responsibility to make major decisions affecting a child, such as where the child should attend school and what religion a child should practice. Physical custody refers to where a child lives and which parent supervises the child's day to day activities.
For both legal and physical custody, a parent may have sole custody or the parents may share custody. As part of the custody negotiations, parents will have to agree on sole or shared legal custody and sole or shared physical custody. Sole custody doesn't necessarily imply that one parent is a better parent. For example, if parents live far apart, sole physical custody may be a more practical solution but the parents could agree to shared legal custody.
If parents, with the help of their Massachusetts child custody attorneys, cannot reach a mutually agreeable child custody agreement (also known as a parenting plan, then the judge will make custody decisions for them.
Massachusetts visitation: When one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically have visitation, or time to spend with the child.
Massachusetts child support: The Massachusetts Family Court judge will also make a child support ruling. A number of factors go into calculating Massachusetts child support awards, including:
- Each parent's gross income
- How much time the child spends with each parent
- The child's expenses, including health care and child care
Reasons to Hire a Massachusetts Child Custody Lawyer
You are not legally required to be represented by a Massachusetts child custody attorney, but it's strongly advised. Massachusetts child custody lawyers will act as your guides through the legal system, help negotiate a mutually agreeable custody agreement and advocate on your behalf before the court. Your attorney should explain the advantages and disadvantages of each decision you make along the way and help you make decisions that are right for you and your children.
When interviewing child custody attorneys in Massachusetts, ask:
- How much experience the attorney has representing parents in child custody and child support matters
- About the lawyer's style in negotiating child custody agreements
- What kind of child custody agreement you can expect to reach
Find & Hire a Massachusetts Child Custody Attorney
If you need to hire a Massachusetts family law lawyer, you've come to the right website. Attorneys.com offers a free service that can quickly connect you to a local child custody lawyer—whether you live in Boston, Worcester, Springfield or elsewhere in the state.
To use our service, call us at 877-913-7222 or complete the form on this page. We'll ask you a few easy questions, then quickly match you with a Massachusetts child custody attorney in your area.