Common Myths in Massachusetts Family Law Every Parent Should Know

When it comes to divorcing and family law, things get complicated quickly. It’s essential to know your rights regarding your children. Presented here are some common myths every parent should be made aware of during divorce or custody proceedings. Myth: A parent’s failure to pay child support can result in the parent being kept from seeing the children Only a judge can determine visitation rights. If a parent fails to pay child support, the other parent is not automatically given the right to withhold visitation. The Court’s orders for visitation cannot be ignored simply because the child support account is
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Holiday Custody

The winter holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also a top contender for the most stressful time of the year. Regardless of family structure, holiday gatherings and visits can be contentious. Under the stress of cleaning and cooking and visiting in-laws, even close-knit nuclear families, amicably divorced co-parents, or happily mixed step-families might experience some tension and conflict around this time of the year. Given the stress of preparing for holidays, and the emotions invested in family celebrations, it is more important than ever for there to be good channels of communication about
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Child Custody in the Face of Infidelity

Massachusetts marriages end for a variety of reasons. From financial to work-related or even stress-related reasons, many marriages all over the country end in divorce. No matter the reason for the legal dissolution of a marriage, the ensuing divorce proceedings can range from amicable to hostile. A number of circumstances may add additional stress to the divorce process. Particularly, marriages that end due to infidelity. This situation can result in increased pressure, and lead to exponential duress if there are children involved. If you’re concerned that infidelity during your marriage or a new partner acquired during a separation might impact
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What factors do courts consider when determining child custody?

Courts primarily base their decision on what is in the child’s best interest, using the Child’s Best Interest Standard. Factors vary from state to state, but the overall goal is to make a decision that promotes the health and wellbeing of the child. Parents are encouraged to come to an agreement on matters of child custody and parenting time to submit to the court. However, if the judge finds the settlement agreement is not in the child’s best interest, it can be rejected. Courts will generally determine the stability of each parent’s home environment and their interest and commitment to
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My son and daughter-in-law are divorcing. As a grandmother do I have visitation rights?

Grandparents do have legal rights, however, regarding visitation, may require a court order under Massachusetts law. In the event the grandparents and parents can come to an agreement regarding visitation, court intervention is not required. When no such agreement can be made, there are certain situations grandparents may be granted a court order allowing visitations. Under Massachusetts law, grandparents have the right to ask a court for visitation if the parents were married and then divorced; the parents are still married, but they live apart, and there is a court order about the separation; or one or both parents are
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How do courts determine if relocation of a child to another state during a divorce is acceptable?

In situations where a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child, the court will determine whether child custody relocation is in the best interests of the child. While a parent is free to relocate out of state themselves without the child or with the permission of the other parent to take the child, the state of Massachusetts requires a judge ruling regarding relocation contested by a parent. Depending on the current custody agreement, the judge has two different processes for determining if relocation is in the child’s best interest. For joint or shared custody the judge will take into
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My ex-spouse has asked to pick up our children, of whom we share custody, at a different time from that stated in our custody agreement. I’m fine with the change. Do we need to alter the agreement, or is a verbal agreement enough?

As an attorney, my answer is almost always going to be “get it in writing.” While you may have the most amicable divorce in the world, you never know what the future may hold. Contracts fill the gaps left when human trust fails. If this is a one-time, or two-time situation, a verbal agreement might suffice. Of course, without putting it in writing, if you agree to a “quick change,” you may find yourself agreeing to a years-long arrangement without intending to. Moreover, while it is hard to think about, custody agreements in part to protect children from the threat
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Child Custody If You Are Moving From Massachusetts to New Hampshire

Divorce can be a difficult experience, and it is sometimes made even harder when there are children involved, particularly if both parents want sole custody of the children. Unfortunately, child custody can become an even trickier situation if one parent has moved or is planning on moving out of the state, for example from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. MGL c.208 s.30 Massachusetts General Law discusses how child custody and moving across state lines are handled. This applies to both old and new custody cases. A minor child, who is a native of Massachusetts or who has lived in the state
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Judge Ordered Mother Primary Physical Custody of Child Due to Father Undermining the Mother

The Parties have three children and the Father was seeking custody of one of the children.  The Father had started to undermine the Mother with this particular child, in that, if the Mother brought the child to school, the Father would subsequently pick the child up and release the child from school early.  This became a pattern of undermining the Mother by the Father and when the Judge reviewed the detailed affidavit of Mother regarding these incidents, the Judge ordered that the Mother should have primary physical custody.
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Divorce Includes Visits and Custody vs. Parenting time

Massachusetts courts are moving away from the custody and visitation model in favor of allotting parenting time. Historically, Massachusetts courts often awarded primary physical custody to one parent, who would have the children reside with them during the school week, with the other parent being awarded ‘visits’ with the children on weekends, holidays and school vacations. In some cases, courts would order that the parents have ‘shared’ physical custody, in which children’s time with each parent would be divided evenly – typically, either by alternating weeks, or spending half the school week with each parent and alternating weekends.
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