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Is a father eligible for primary custody in Massachusetts?

Fathers and mothers can both play important roles in the upbringing of children. While there was once an expectation that mothers should provide most forms of parental support, both parents are now likely to be actively involved parents.

For some adults in Massachusetts, a concern about how divorce could affect their relationships with their children is the only thing keeping them married. Fathers, in particular, often worry that divorce might limit their time with their children.

Many people still share misinformation about divorce and custody matters, including the myth that the family courts always give mothers preferential treatment during contested custody cases. The truth is that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities in most Massachusetts families.

The courts want what is best for the children

Contrary to urban legends about the law favoring mothers, statutes in Massachusetts are actually sex neutral. They do not refer to men, women, mothers or fathers. The use of neutral language means that judges should not give one parental relationship more weight or importance than the other.

Instead of focusing on a parent’s sex and their title, what a judge should consider is their relationship with the children. A parent’s ability to meet the needs of the children, the parenting they have engaged in thus far and their living circumstances are all key considerations when a judge decides how to divide parental rights and responsibilities in a Massachusetts divorce.

Shared custody has become the standard in most cases. Both parents can expect to receive a liberal amount of parenting time and a degree of decision-making authority. Unless there is evidence indicating that one parent may fail to meet the needs of the children or may pose a threat to their safety, judges may try to keep both adults as involved as possible.

That being said, a father who has a close bond with his children and who has served as the primary caregiver thus far could potentially request primary custody or a greater share of parenting time in a Massachusetts divorce. In fact, they could potentially reach that arrangement with their spouse before the matter ever goes to court.

Parents always have the option of settling divorce-related disagreements and pursuing uncontested divorces. They can establish their own custody arrangements, including awarding the father’s sole or primary custody while the mother has less parenting time or visitation rights.

Fathers who understand how the law works in Massachusetts may feel more confident about asserting themselves during child custody proceedings. Learning about the law and documenting family circumstances they help people secure the custody terms that are most appropriate in a divorce.