Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

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

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Massachusetts counselor protests custody decision

Massachusetts child custody battles are often emotional and exhausting, for litigants and the children involved; sometimes even for the therapists and advocates involved along the way.

When two people cannot agree concerning the children's best interests, the resulting litigation often times includes allegations of abuse, neglect and even assault among the parties. These are charges that are taken seriously, particularly because the court is primarily interested in determining an outcome that is best for the child. When one of the parents is from a different country, the issues become more complicated. Once a child custody matter is decided by the courts, a petition for custody modification will often necessitate proof of a substantial change in circumstances.

A 41-year-old Bermuda resident won custody of his minor child in Massachusetts after a protracted battle. Along the way he was charged with assault, uttering threatening words, and trespassing by the child's mother. She later withdrew those charges. Subsequently, the father was accused of stalking the mother and acting in an abusive manner. Those charges went to trial, after which he was acquitted.

After winning custody in the United States, the courts in Bermuda acknowledged the validity of the U.S. court order and upheld custody for the father in Bermuda. That result did not sit well with a Worcester counselor involved in the case. She traveled to Bermuda and staged a one-woman protest outside the Department of Child and Family Services in Hamilton. The counselor stood across from the Department with a sign declaring "Ask me why I am standing here?" The father, off-duty at the time from his position as a police officer, did just that.

The incident descended into a play in two acts, she accusing him of threatening behavior, and he accusing her of acting inappropriately for a visitor to the island. No charges were filed. The police would only say they are aware of the matter and are investigating.

Undeniably, professionals and parents do not always agree when children are concerned. And, when there is disagreement, the courts are left with the responsibility of coming to a decision. A Massachusetts attorney experienced in child custody disputes and custody modification may offer some guidance for an aggrieved party seeking justice.

Source: Royal Gazette, "Protester claims off-duty officer intimidated her," Sam Strangeways, Aug. 01, 2011

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