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What Does ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Mean in Massachusetts?



What Does ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Mean in Massachusetts?

16 October 2023
What Does ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Mean in Massachusetts?

When parents decide to get divorced, one of the most important things they must figure out is who will take care of the children. This decision can affect the family for a long time. There are different types of child custody, and what the court decides depends on each family’s unique situation. In this article, we will explore child custody laws in Massachusetts and how they use the “best interests of the child” principle.

Child Custody Laws in Massachusetts and the Child’s Best Interests

In Massachusetts, the law focuses on what is in the best interests of the child when determining child custody and the parenting plan. It doesn’t mean the court chooses the better parent. Instead, the judge considers what would be best for the child, taking into account all the facts, even though divorce can be tough. There’s no one-size-fits-all definition for the best interests of the child because each case is different. What’s best always depends on what the child needs and how the family situation affects the child.

In Massachusetts, both parents have equal rights, which means the court usually wants both parents to spend time with the child. The court typically only awards sole custody to one parent if there are special reasons for it.

Factors Massachusetts Courts Consider When Deciding Child Custody

When deciding child custody in Massachusetts, there isn’t a fixed standard, but judges look at several factors as guidelines. The most important thing is the child’s health, safety, and well-being. Here are some things judges consider:

Child Custody Factor 1: Meeting the Child’s Needs

The court takes into account what the child needs. Every child is different, so they examine:

  • Does the child have any health issues, whether physical or mental?
  • How can the child’s daily routine remain stable?
  • What school and community connections does the child have?
  • Does the child have special relationships with extended family or half-siblings?
  • Sometimes, if the child is old enough, their preferences may be considered.

Child Custody Factor 2: Evaluating Parental Abilities to Care for the Child

The court also assesses whether both parents are capable of taking care of the child. They consider:

  • How healthy are both parents, both physically and mentally?
  • Who has primarily been responsible for the child’s care until now?
  • How demanding is a parent’s job or other commitments?
  • Is a parent willing to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent?
  • Can a parent provide a nurturing home environment for the child?

Divorce and family law cases can go more smoothly for everyone, especially the children, when both parents work together to create a plan. The attorneys at the Wright Family Law Group can help. We can guide you in developing a comprehensive plan for your child’s well-being during and after the divorce. Contact us for a low-cost consultation at (978) 851-2291.  We have offices conveniently located in Tewksbury, Danvers, Cambridge, and Newton.

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