Child Custody

Child custody is often the most difficult and contentious matter to resolve. You and your spouse or partner may agree as to the major decisions involving the raising of your children, such as where they will attend school, who will provide medical care and how matters involving their moral development and/or religious education will be handled (referred to as legal custody) but disagree as to how a parenting plan will be arranged (at one time referred to as physical custody).

If you were married, the Probate & Family Court in Massachusetts will presume that legal custody between you and your spouse will be shared and that you will work with your spouse to agree on your children’s education, which religion will be most dominant in their lives, and matters of that nature. The Court will presume that during the course of your marriage, you and your spouse made these decisions jointly and that you can continue to do so. If this is not the case, or you and your spouse cannot work together in the best interests of your children, the court may award legal custody to one or the other of you, but this is unusual.

If you and the other parent were never married, the Probate & Family Court in Massachusetts will presume that the mother has legal custody but this presumption can be rebutted as part of a Complaint for Paternity.

The Parenting Plan, however, is often a touchy subject as it involves whether you or your spouse or partner will have the most time with your children, something that neither of you probably gave much thought to when the family all resided together.

We will first try to work with you and your spouse or partner and his/her attorney in an effort to reach an agreement on these issues. We have a lot of experience in writing and implementing parenting plans that are ultimately agreeable even to parents who never thought they would come to terms on the issue.

In the end, if the matter must be litigated, the Court must determine what is in the children’s best interests to decide how both legal custody and a parenting plan will be handled.

Since this issue is highly subjective, we will advocate on your behalf to convince the Court to implement your preferred parenting plan and allow you to decide how to best raise your children. With years of experience in litigating this issue, and as Guardians ad Litem, frequently appointed by the Essex County Probate & Family Court to make recommendations in specific cases, we are uniquely qualified to represent you if the matter of child custody and/or the parenting plan in your case cannot be resolved by agreement.

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