Physical Custody of Children

Physical Custody of Children
Massachusetts Physical Custody

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 “non-custodial 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.

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

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 as legal custody, which has to do with decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.

Less common yet gaining in popularity is joint physical custody, in which children spend considerable periods, perhaps several weeks or months of each year, alternately with each parent. This 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 with each other. A joint physical custody arrangement is a good option when both parents reside in the same town and want physical custody. 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 to forge a bond with each parent equally.

Joint custody or joint parenting time works best when the parties can co-parent amicably and there are no countervailing problems, such as a restraining order. 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 lives outside a 10-15 mile radius, it makes a joint parenting plan challenging 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.

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