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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

Is presumed joint child custody the right move?

Determining child custody in a divorce can be an emotional issue for both parents in Massachusetts. While each parent wants what is in the best interests of their children, they often disagree about where the children should live. Adding to the child custody question is the issue of child support for a noncustodial parent in many cases.

Readers in Massachusetts may be interested to learn how one state is looking to change child custody laws by creating a presumption of joint custody. This change would presume in every divorce case involving child custody questions that both parents have joint physical and legal custody. Proponents say the new legislation, if passed, would benefit the more than 250,000 children in the state that spend little to no time with one of their parents.

Those in opposition to the Minnesota legislation point out that joint child custody may not be the best solution for all families. As the law proceeds through the legislative process it may be changed to reflect the concerns of all involved.

As a couple goes through the divorce process, they typically have many issues to consider. Not only do they have to work to split the assets accumulated during a marriage, they must decide with which parent their children should live for the majority of the time. Many of the decisions required in a divorce are worked through the negotiation process. In fact, one authority notes that 95 percent of child custody questions can be resolved through negotiation. However, when the parents can't decide, a court can make the decision. It will be interesting to see if Massachusetts lawmakers consider similar legislation to Minnesota's proposed joint child custody bill.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio, "House approves bill to change custody laws," Sasha Aslanian, April 18, 2012

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