The Massachusetts court may enter a custody order in accordance with any agreement that the parents have made, so long as the order would be in the best interests of the child or children. The court may award any type of custody arrangement involving combinations of legal and physical custody. In Massachusetts, the court may not make a general presumption in favor of either parent, though certain circumstances may deem a parent unfit for full custody.

What are some factors used in formulating a custody order?

A variety of factors are used by courts in order to fashion a custody order that best meets the needs of the child and the parties involved. Some of these are:

  • The child’s past and present living arrangements, specifically their effects on physical, emotional, mental, and moral health
  • The willingness of either parent to encourage or facilitate continued contact between the child and the other parent
  • The child’s age and level of maturity
  • Any history of abuse or deserting the child
  • Prior records indicating drug or alcohol abuse by the parent
  • The existence of any restraining orders or restrictions on visitation rights

What happens after the court has made a decision?

Once a decision is finalized as to the custody order, the Massachusetts judge will sign the order and submit it to a court clerk to be kept in court records. The order will then be binding on both parties, and future violations may result in penalties such as a fine or a modification of the custody order. The order may also be modified under certain circumstances such as those involving a move or relocation of the custodial parent and child.

Do I need a lawyer for my child custody issues?

Child custody laws can often present a challenge to parents filing for custody because of their complexity. Thus it is always helpful to obtain the expert advice of a Massachusetts child custody lawyer who can help explain which options are best for your child under Massachusetts law.