Legal custody has to do with who makes the major decisions about issues such as education, health, medical care, emotional development and religion. In most cases, divorcing parents share legal custody and both contribute to decisions concerning the minor children. In Massachusetts, courts are inclined to order shared legal custody as the court believes it is important for both parents involved in major decision-making for the child whenever possible.
In situations when one parent has sole legal custody it is usually the result of a complete inability of the parties to communicate effectively with each other on any level. This is sometimes the case when there is a restraining order in effect between the parties. The parent who is granted sole legal custody has the absolute right to make any and all decisions concerning the upbringing of the child without any intervention, objection or consideration from the other parent. However, it is important to note that even a parent with sole legal custody can’t take the children from Massachusetts permanently without the prior permission of the other parent or court.
You may want to ask the court for sole legal custody of your child because you believe your partner is an unfit parent. It is important to remember however, that the way the court system views your ex may be different from how you feel about them. Simply because you and your ex do not get along or your ex does not treat you nicely does not mean that the Court will order one parent to have sole legal custody. To obtain sole legal custody, you must demonstrate that there has been a complete breakdown in communication and that there is no possible way the two of you can effectively engage in any kind of joint decision making for the child. However, most judges will deem a parent unfit and will not hesitate to give the other parent sole legal custody if they find they have a drug addiction, alcohol dependency or has engaged in some form of child neglect or abuse.
In order to get sole legal custody, you are going to need to show the court evidence that a joint legal custody arrangement is not in the child’s best interests. If your ex has a history of violent behavior, drug or alcohol abuse, or placing your child in dangerous situations you are going to need documentation to support these claims. The court will consider the other parent’s behavior, parenting history and whether or not the poor decision making reasonably presents a risk to the child. Only after a thorough analysis will the court grant you sole legal and physical custody of the child.
Find Out More About Your Options
When legal custody issues arise, protect your rights and the best interests of your children by contacting the Wright Family Law Group. Call us at 978-851-2291 or contact our office online to schedule a consultation.