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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.

How is Massachusetts child custody determined?

There aren't many things more important to a parent than their child. This is true even when parents decide to make the difficult decision to divorce. The children are always high on a parent's priority list, which is why most parents have questions pertaining to the child custody process and how it is determined. Child custody determinations are based on a number of different factors all pertaining to a child's best interests.

Depending on how you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse are communicating, child custody can be negotiated out of court or litigated in court. Much of this depends on whether or not you and your divorcing spouse are seeing eye-to-eye on the details of the child custody arrangements. It is not unusual for spouses to disagree about how these issues will be ultimately determined in the divorce decree. In this case, both sides will make their case pertaining to their custody preferences and the court will decide.

The best interests of the child are based on a variety of factors including the wishes of the child, religious and cultural factors, schooling and other physical custody situations that are favorable for the child. If a parent has a history of rearing the child, this will weigh heavily in their favor when seeking physical custody.

There are many factors that go into a child custody determination for both physical and legal custody. Each custody arrangement is different and should be tailored to a family's specific needs.

Child custody arrangements have many possibilities, allowing parents to customize their arrangement based on the family's circumstances. It may seem daunting at first, but really, these things can be determined by looking at a child's best interests. Whether or not parents agree, the specifics can be negotiated or decided by a family law court.

Source: FindLaw, "How Child Custody Decisions Are Made," Accessed Nov. 28, 2016

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