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Massachusetts child custody factors

There are infinite number of ways that a child's parents can affect their children's lives for the better. During a change in marital status, or when seeking a change in an existing custody order, a child's world can be greatly impacted by their parents' decisions. Above all else, parents need to consider children's best interests above any other factor.

Children's best interests are single-handedly the most important factor that governs child custody decisions in Massachusetts family courts. It is not a checklist that is set-in-stone. Instead, it is a goal in which the child custody decision is made.

Child custody decisions seek to foster and encourage a child's happiness, security, mental health and emotional development into young adulthood. A child's best interests threshold aims at ensuring their needs are met above all others.

A few factors that play into determining whether a child custody decision is in a child's best interest are the wishes of the child, religious or cultural considerations and the health of the parents, just to name a few. Any evidence of mental or physical abuse is taken seriously during these discussions, and if there is evidence of such, it can greatly impact the custody situation.

Some children adapt to a new home environment faster than other children, and if a drastic change is being considered for the child, the court will determine the impact that it could have on the child. Ability to connect with loved ones outside of the home is also a factor in determining child custody.

In short, there is not a short-checklist that goes into deciding what the child's best interests. It is tailored to his or her situation for a reason; in that, it assumes that important issues with a new custody arrangement could have lasting positive or negative effects on the child.

It is good to remember that what may be best for the child, may not be best for a parent for one reason or another. Putting personal needs and wants aside in search of the child's best possible outcome is the way to approach a change in child custody.

Source: Family.FindLaw.com, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of a child," accessed on July 18, 2016

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