Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
Local 413-315-5518
Toll Free 877-622-6089

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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An overview of child custody laws in Massachusetts

As divorce cases rise in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the United States, more and more children are being affected by their parents' split. In addition, parents need to make some big decisions, such as who will take over child custody and who will pay for child support.

Keeping in mind the children's best interests, and absent an out-of-court agreement made by the child's parents and approved by the court, the Massachusetts laws hands over child custody and care to a person it deems fit. If the parents are not fit to take care of the children, the court may hand over child custody to a third person. The court will not provide child custody to anybody who has been convicted of murder of the other parent. The person will not even be allowed to visit the child.

The court also applies the child support guidelines while deciding on the amount of child support to be paid. If a departure from the guidelines is in the children's best interests, the court may order a different amount. In any child custody order, the court shall determine if a parent has any health insurance.

In Massachusetts, dependent children are completely maintained by parents, and if one of the parents files a complaint with the court for modification of child support, the court will consider and may modify the order. The court is also responsible for modifying health care coverage if required. A child custody order may also be modified in accordance with Section 3B of Chapter 119A. Appropriate maintenance orders are also given for any child who is less than 23-years-old and lives with his or her parents.

As the above information demonstrates, there are many factors that courts must be considered when making child custody or child support orders. Parents should make sure they understand their rights when it comes to child custody and child support, in order to reach a fair outcome.

Source:, "General Laws," accessed Nov. 16, 2014

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
1380 Main Street, Suite 302
Springfield, MA 01103

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