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Physical Custody of Children

Physical Custody of Children

Physical Custody of Children in Massachusetts

Generally, one of the parents is awarded sole physical custody of the children (judges will try to keep siblings together). The “noncustodial parent” is granted visiting rights (or what is not referred to as parenting time), which might mean that the child spends several hours, weekends or some vacation time with that parent.

The term “custodial parent” and “non-custodial” parent, however, are becoming used less frequently in the family court.  Instead, the court uses the term “parenting plan” and will look at the day to day schedule of the children in order to determine which parent has a larger proportionate share of time with the children.

Although the “custodial parent” is in charge of making day to day decisions concerning the child, (i.e. what to wear, what to eat etc.) the other parent likely may still have a right to participate in how the child is raised or help make decisions concerning the child.  More often than not parties share what is referred to legal custody which has to do with decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.

Less common, however gaining in popularity, is joint physical custody, in which children spend considerable periods of time, perhaps several weeks or months of each year, alternately with each parent.  This type of arrangement will look different for all families depending on the parents’ work schedules, the children’s day to day needs and how closely they live to each other.  When both parents reside in the same town and want physical custody, a joint physical custody arrangement is a good option.  Joint physical custody makes sense when the parents live relatively close to one another and have work schedules that can accommodate each one having equal shared parenting time.  The trend toward joint parenting time is predicated on the belief that children should be allowed to spend equal amounts of time with both parents in order to be able to forge a bond with each parent equally.

Joint custody or joint parenting time works best when the parties are able to co-parent amicably and there are no countervailing problems in the case such as a restraining order situation.  However, there are occasions when joint physical custody won’t be practical, even if both parties are willing to work together amicably.  For example, if one parent has to travel extensively for work or if he or she lives outside a 10-15 mile radius it makes a joint parenting plan difficult to orchestrate.

Find Out More About Your Options

When physical 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.