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Do Courts Give Preference to Mothers in Child Custody Cases in MA?


At the time of divorce, many couples are under the misconception that the family law courts in Massachusetts may favor the mother when deciding the issue of child custody. In reality, there is no such preferential treatment for a mother, and a father has equal custody and visitation rights. The law presumes the father’s parental rights when a child is born to wedded parents, and he can pursue a claim for child custody during a divorce.

At Davis Law Group, Jay Davis has years of experience in fighting for the rights of fathers in a divorce. Jay can give you the right legal advice about your child custody case and help you make a rightful custodial and visitation claim. Talk to Jay’s legal team today at (617) 752-6216 or schedule a complimentary consultation with him.

Tender Years Doctrine No Longer a Key Consideration

In the past, Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts would give some gender-based preference to mothers in child custody cases under the tender years’ doctrine. The doctrine presumed that a younger child’s best interests would be served if the mother had the primary custody.

However, with the passage of time, this principle has lost its relevance because many mothers are working out of home just like fathers, while many fathers contribute equally to a child’s upbringing in the contemporary family system.

Father Does Not Have to Prove Mother’s Unfitness

Some people in a divorce mistakenly believe that a father may have a right to child custody only when the court finds the mother to be an unfit parent. In reality, a father has as much right as a mother in Massachusetts to claim child custody, even when the mother is an equally fit parent.

The criterion of unfitness (such as mental health condition, history of child abuse or child neglect, history of substance abuse, etc.) will apply equally to both parents while determining child custody.

Child custody is one of the most sensitive and life-altering aspects of a divorce. Make sure you have an experienced child custody attorney in Massachusetts such as Jay Davis on your side who has extensive experience in this area of family law. Book your consultation with Jay now by calling at (617) 752-6216.

Child Custody Standard in Massachusetts

The only guiding principle for a Massachusetts family law court while determining child custody will be the “best interests of the child.” The mother (or the father) does not begin the divorce case in MA with an inherently superior right to child custody than the other parent.

The court will decide child custody and visitation matters solely based on the needs and welfare of the child. The law in MA does not spell out specific factors that will guide a judge’s evaluation of a child’s best interests in a custody case. In other words, family law judges in the state have substantial discretion on this account while deciding child custody.

As gender is not considered a standard of consideration for custody, it is entirely possible under Massachusetts law for a father to claim and obtain his child’s primary custody, whereby the child lives with the father for the majority of the time.

If living with the father supports the child’s welfare and happiness more than it does with the mother, the judge may award primary custody to the father. The law also requires the judge to account for the child’s current physical and mental health condition, which may have been impacted by their domestic living conditions of the past or present.

Father Can Receive Child Support from the Mother

The usual practice in Massachusetts child custody cases is that when one parent invests more time and effort to care for the child’s upbringing because they have the primary custody, the non-custodial parent may be ordered to make child support payments. If a father is awarded primary child custody, he gets an equal right to receive child support payments from the co-parent as her financial contribution towards the child’s basic needs.

Consult With a Skilled and Compassionate Divorce Lawyer in MA

When you are considering a divorce or have already initiated the divorce proceedings in Massachusetts, you should be aware of your parental rights as a father with regard to custody and visitation. Jay Davis and his dedicated legal team thoroughly understand the nuances of family law and father’s rights in MA, and will do everything possible within the ambit of law to protect and uphold your rights to child custody and visitation.

We have been helping clients in the state for over two decades, and we can help you too. With our seasoned legal representation and personalized attention to your case, you can achieve your goals in divorce and other family law matters. Call Davis Law Group today at (617) 752-6216 for a free and confidential consultation.

The post Do Courts Give Preference to Mothers in Child Custody Cases in MA? first appeared on Davis Law Group.
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