Child Custody Lawyers in Middlesex County, MA

Helping You Achieve the Best Solution for Your Familymother with custody of child

In Massachusetts, courts understand the importance of both parents maintaining a strong and loving bond with their children after a divorce. Although both parents have an equal right to custody, the deciding factor in such cases is the best interests of the children, which includes the age of the children and the stability of each household. If you are getting a divorce and have children, you will need a legal team on your side that can help you achieve the best possible results for your family.

At The Halks Firm, our child custody attorneys in Newton have the experience and insight to skillfully guide you through this sensitive matter.

Contact The Halks Firm in Newton today at (781) 995-0107 to set up a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.

Determining Child Custody

Massachusetts, unlike most other states, does not provide a list of elements a judge must consider when determining the best interests of the children. However, although the law does not specifically state which factor a judge will examine, it does state that the court must determine if the children’s current or past living conditions negatively impact their emotional or physical health.

Additionally, it is also likely that a judge will take a look at the following factors:

  • The children’s emotional ties with each parent
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to provide for the children’s needs
  • The distance between each parent
  • Each parent’s willingness to nurture a close relationship between the children and their other parent
  • Each parent’s previous responsibilities in regards to raising the children

If a judge believes the children are old enough and mature enough, their preference might also be considered. In cases where a parent has a history of domestic violence, sole custody would likely be awarded to the other parent.

Legal vs. Physical Custody in Massachusetts

The matter of child custody can be split into two categories: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody refers to the right that a parent has to make important life decisions on behalf of their child. These decisions include medical, educational, religious, etc.

Physical custody refers to the right that a parent has to care for the child’s physical needs, such as where the child will physically live.

Sole vs. Joint Custody in Massachusetts

Sole custody is when one parent is given the right and responsibility for the custody of their child, either legal or physical or both.

Joint custody is when both parents must share custody rights, either legal or physical or both.

The court typically seeks to award joint custody as it is often in the best interest of the child.

What Is a Temporary Custody Order?

Unlike the child custody order you will have once your divorce is finalized, a temporary child custody order is only meant to remain in effect until the divorce or child custody proceedings reach a resolution. Temporary child custody orders provide children with a stable home environment during this time.

They can also be used to keep a parent from moving out of state with the children during the divorce, allowing both parties to maintain their rights as parents and preventing one or the other from doing anything that might harm the parent-child relationship.

Establishing Temporary Child Custody

While there are certainly many misconceptions regarding child custody and which parent gets to have the kids, in most cases, such decisions are not automatic. You will have to file a request to establish custody while the divorce is in progress, which can be made in your divorce petition or even after filing the initial paperwork. A judge will then hold a hearing for your custody request. During this hearing, it is important that you are well prepared. The following could potentially be addressed:

  • Child support
  • Transportation costs
  • Domestic violence
  • Visitation schedules
  • Health insurance coverage

How Will Temporary Custody be Determined?

Several factors are taken into consideration when a judge determined temporary child custody. Ultimately, they seek to do what is in the best interests of the children. Below are some factors a judge will consider:

  • The relationship both parents have with the children
  • The physical and emotional health of each parent
  • The physical and emotional needs of the children
  • The ability of each parent to meet the needs of the children

Visitation Rights

To support a continued relationship between the children and both parents, the noncustodial parent will receive visitation rights. Generally, a typical plan allows for the noncustodial parent to see the children one or two nights a week and every other weekend, though the specifics vary based on what best fits the children’s and parents’ schedules.

If it is determined that it would be unsafe for the children to be left alone with the noncustodial parent during visitation, the court might order supervised visitation. Under these circumstances, the noncustodial parent would only be allowed to see the children with the supervision of a third party, such as a trusted friend or family member whom the children are comfortable with. There are supervised-visitation centers as well.

Below are some of the circumstances in which supervised visitation might be ordered:

  • The parent has a severe substance abuse problem
  • The parent was found guilty of domestic violence
  • The parent suffers from a condition that could endanger the safety of the children if they were left alone with the parent

Parental Alienation & Rights to Child Custody

The battle for child custody can sometimes get a little nasty, especially when there is a lot of bad blood between divorcing spouses. However, it is generally believed that the involvement of both parents is in the best interest of a child. This does not mean that a vindictive parent will not try to alienate the other in an attempt to “win” the affections of their child. If you suspect that your former spouse is trying to alienate you from your children, you should hire a skilled child custody attorney and bring this issue to the attention of the court.

Here are some of the most telltale signs of signs of parental alienation:

  • Your child appears to have formed an alliance with your former spouse: Divorce is not an easy experience for children to endure and, as a result, many often naturally feel angry. If your child’s anger seems especially aimed at you, however, this could be a strong indication that your co-parent is aggravating your child’s feelings of anger and trying to foster hostility toward you. If you notice your child acting out against you or refusing to visit you, consider this a red flag for parental alienation.
  • Your child knows a lot about your divorce: There is absolutely no reason why your child should know all of the nasty details about your divorce or why it happened. In fact, for kids well under the age of 18, it is not even appropriate for them to be privy to this kind of information. If your child hints at knowledge of infidelity, financial irresponsibility, or some other issue that might have led to your divorce, you can bet that your ex-spouse is oversharing as a means to alienate you.
  • Your former spouse is not communicating with you: Communication is a key element in an effective co-parenting relationship, so if your former spouse is not telling you everything you need to know about your child, such as a medical appointment, problems at school, or an upcoming event, this is a big problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Your child is being used to spy on you: Kids should not be used as pawns at any time and they certainly should not be used to spy on either parent. If you are aware that your ex-spouse is curious about certain aspects of your life, he or she might be asking your child to gather information to use against you in court.
  • Your authority as a parent is being undermined: Even parents who are not divorced are bound to have some disagreements regarding the upbringing of their children, but there should be a certain level of consistency between both households regarding basic rules. If you notice your child frequently makes comments about what your former spouse permits them to do, such as how late they can stay up or how much candy they are allowed to consume, this is a sign that your co-parent is undermining your authority. It is also a form of parental alienation.

Arrange a Free Consultation with a Compassionate Child Custody Attorney!

If you are in the midst of a child custody dispute, reach out to the team at The Halks Firm in Newton. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience and a history of proven success, which we will use to your advantage. You can rely on our child custody team to help you achieve the results that best serve your interests and the interests of your children.

Contact The Halks Firm today at (781) 995-0107 to request a free initial consultation with one of our trusted Newton child custody lawyers.

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