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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.

Addressing custody and support issues during divorce-Part II

Children can have a difficult time coming to terms with the divorce of their parents. While the parents are anxiously waiting for a new beginning of a better life after divorce, the children often feel insecure and sad. Hence, in the best interest of the child, U.S. courts, including those in Massachusetts, generally award child custody to one parent and order the other parent to pay child support.

A grandparent of a child, or some other third parties, may also wish to seek visitation rights. If the grandparents want visitation rights with their grandchild, they may be required to file a petition. A consequence of this may be that a non-parent may take care of the child if the parents are unwilling or unable to step into that role. However, the third party cannot make decisions regarding health care and other important matters on behalf of the child.

Massachusetts courts determine visitation rights on the basis of the best interest of the child. However, a couple may be able to create and agree upon a joint child custody plan. Subsequently, the couple will have to get the court to approve the plan. For those parents who are in the military, the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act provides assistance for military parents. Many states have started implementing that plan.

The courts also have the authority to make modifications to child custody, visitation rights and child support agreements. In order to modify the child custody agreement, the person will have to prove in court that there has been a significant change in circumstances that merit a change in the child custody arrangement.

Also, many states, including Massachusetts, calculate child support on the basis of a child support formula that takes into consideration the income of both parents. The precise model of child support calculation varies from state to state.

Source: The Huffington Post, A Legal Overview of Child Custody and Support in Divorce Cases, Braid Reid, June 24, 2015

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