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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Ground-breaking MA Supreme court ruling on child custody

Massachusetts has been a leader in issues pertaining to family law and same-sex marriage in recent year's past. Most recently, a ruling has come down from Massachusetts highest court that pertains to child custody and biological parental rights. The landmark case is the first of its kind with such precedence in the state. While its ruling mostly affects same-sex parents, it can have an impact on child custody situations involving traditional marriages or grandparents who have cared for children in a parental role.

Essentially, the court found that a person's lack of biological ties to a child should not disqualify the person from being a parent. Rather, the measuring stick a parent should be held to is whether or not they have been or are an active part of the child's life. Proving that one took a large part in a parent's life since birth could apply to a wide range of situations, however, same-sex couples who have shared a child will likely be the most impacted.

This is because, oftentimes, parents in same-sex relationships aren't both biologically related. This shouldn't give a disadvantage to the same-sex parent who is not biologically related. If it can be proven that the spouse was a part of the child's life since birth, then they can now be considered a parent, despite a lack of biological ties. This ruling affects how child support and benefits can be addressed for parents of children in same-sex marriages who are not biologically tied to that child.

The ruling can only benefit a child of a same-sex relationship, especially in case of divorce. As in most child custody decision, the best interests of children were considered before the court came to a decision. How this ruling will affect future child custody decisions is unclear. The fact is, the highest Massachusetts court found in favor of a same-sex parent with no biological ties as having parental rights.

Source:, "The state's highest court just made a major ruling in parental rights," Milton J. Valencia and John R. Element, October 4, 2016

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