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Child Custody & Visitation

Child Custody Lawyers in Quincy, MA

Serving Individuals & Families Throughout the Greater Boston Metro Area

When it comes to child custody and visitation, the goal is to do what is in the best interest of the child. In most cases, that means making arrangements that allow the child to spend time with both parents. Whether you need help with child custody during a divorce or as a result of a paternity action, the lawyers at Davis Law Group can help.

What is Child Custody?

In Massachusetts, child custody refers to the legal responsibility for making decisions about a child's upbringing and well-being, as well as the physical care and supervision of the child. When parents separate or divorce, they need to establish a custody arrangement that outlines how they will share these responsibilities.

There are different types of child custody arrangements recognized in the state:

  • Physical Custody: This determines where the child will live and who will be responsible for their daily care. Physical custody can be:
    • Sole Physical Custody: The child lives with one parent most of the time, and the other parent usually has visitation rights.
    • Joint Physical Custody: The child spends significant time living with both parents, and the parents share physical custody responsibilities.
  • Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child's upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Legal custody can be:
    • Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the sole authority to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
    • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share the responsibility for making important decisions about the child's upbringing.

Custody arrangements can be either sole or shared, depending on the circumstances and what is in the best interests of the child. The court may also order a combination of physical and legal custody arrangements tailored to the specific needs of the child and the parents.

What is Visitation?

Visitation refers to the time a non-custodial parent spends with their child following a divorce or separation. It allows the non-custodial parent to maintain a relationship with the child even though they may not have primary physical custody. Visitation arrangements are often outlined in a parenting plan or custody agreement and can vary based on the needs and circumstances of the child and parents.

Here are different types of visitation arrangements commonly seen in Massachusetts:

  • Scheduled Visitation: This type of visitation follows a specific schedule agreed upon by both parents or ordered by the court. It could include weekends, weekdays, holidays, and vacations.
  • Reasonable Visitation: In this arrangement, the non-custodial parent and custodial parent work together to determine visitation times that are reasonable and flexible based on their schedules and the child's needs.
  • Supervised Visitation: In cases where there are concerns about the safety or well-being of the child, visitation may be supervised by a neutral third party or a professional agency. This ensures that the child's safety is protected during visits with the non-custodial parent.
  • Virtual Visitation: With the advancement of technology, virtual visitation allows non-custodial parents to maintain contact with their children through video calls, emails, or other digital means. This type of visitation is especially useful in situations where physical visitation is limited due to distance or other factors.
  • No Visitation: In rare cases where visitation is not in the best interest of the child due to factors such as abuse or neglect, the court may order no visitation rights for the non-custodial parent.

These visitation arrangements can be established through negotiation between the parents, with the assistance of mediators or attorneys, or they can be determined by the court if the parents cannot come to an agreement on their own. The primary consideration in determining visitation arrangements is always the best interests of the child.

Determining Child Custody And Visitation Arrangements

In Massachusetts, as in many other jurisdictions, the court's primary concern in child custody and visitation cases is the best interests of the child. When determining what custody and visitation arrangements are in the child's best interests, the court considers a variety of factors to ensure the child's safety, well-being, and overall welfare.

Common factors considered by the court in Massachusetts when determining the best interests of the child for custody and visitation include:

  • Child's Preference: Depending on the child's age and maturity level, the court may take into account the child's preference regarding custody and visitation arrangements.
  • Parental Fitness: The court evaluates each parent's ability to provide for the child's physical, emotional, and developmental needs. Factors such as stability, mental and physical health, and history of caregiving are considered.
  • Child's Relationship with Each Parent: The court assesses the quality of the child's relationship with each parent, including the level of involvement in the child's life, bonding, and attachment.
  • Primary Caregiver: The court considers which parent has been the primary caregiver for the child, including who has historically provided the majority of the child's care and support.
  • Safety and Stability: The court prioritizes the safety and stability of the child. Any history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or neglect may impact custody and visitation decisions.
  • Co-Parenting Ability: The court evaluates the parents' ability to communicate, cooperate, and make joint decisions regarding the child's upbringing. A willingness to facilitate the child's relationship with the other parent is also important.
  • Child's Adjustment to Home, School, and Community: The court considers the impact of custody and visitation arrangements on the child's stability, including continuity in education, extracurricular activities, and social relationships.
  • Geographic Proximity: The court may consider the proximity of each parent's residence to the child's school, healthcare providers, and support network when determining custody and visitation arrangements.
  • Any Special Needs of the Child: If the child has any special needs or requirements, the court considers the ability of each parent to meet those needs and provide appropriate care and support.
  • Any Other Relevant Factors: The court may take into account any other factors deemed relevant to the child's best interests on a case-by-case basis.

Of all family law matters, child custody is one of the most complex. Terms like sole custody, joint custody, physical custody and legal custody are thrown around frequently. Our Quincy child custody attorneys will define them for you and educate you about how they apply.

Some people believe that courts are biased in favor of mothers. That is not true. Fathers’ rights are just as important as mothers’ rights. Ultimately, the goal is to reach a parenting plan that allows both parents to be involved in the child’s upbringing. The specifics of that plan can vary dramatically from one case to the next.

Child custody and visitation arrangements will be based on a variety of factors. Which parent has the child been living with for the last six months? Have both parents developed a personal and parental relationship with the child? Have both parents exercised parental responsibility? Are there extenuating circumstances involved, like drug or alcohol abuse? Is one parent considering relocation to another city, state or country? We will review all of these factors and pursue an outcome that will keep your relationship with your child strong.

Can Child Custody Be Changed?

When circumstances require it, child custody and visitation schedules can be changed. Perhaps a new job, remarriage or the birth of another child means a change is necessary. Perhaps the child has simply gotten older and his or her needs have changed. If you are interested in changing your parenting arrangements, we can assist.

Protecting Your Visitation Rights in the Greater Boston Region

Our law firm is conveniently located in Quincy, just 12 miles from downtown Boston. We are committed to protecting parent-child relationships.

Get in Touch for Child Visitation Support in Quincy, MA Contact Us or call (617) 752-6216 for legal guidance today. 

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