Pursuing Child Custody Resolutions
At The Law Offices of Bailey & Burke, we represent people in child custody and visitation proceedings in Worcester County, Massachusetts. With extensive experience in family law, we are able to set expectations for clients and help them seek their desired outcome. Ultimately, we consider the best interests of the child or children involved.
Legal Custody Vs. Physical Custody
In child custody proceedings, both legal and physical custody must be determined. Legal custody grants a parent the right to have input on major decisions on the upbringing of a child, including those regarding education, health care and religion. Physical custody deals with determining the child’s residence. Physical custody can range from traditional “every-other-weekend” arrangements to a complete split in parenting time (commonly known as “joint custody”).
In the past, the courts favored the mother in child custody and visitation proceedings. Today, the courts are more progressive and make the best interests of the child their primary consideration, putting much less emphasis on the importance of traditional parenting roles.
Considering Factors In Child Custody
In determining child custody, history is key. The courts look closely at the history of the family to project how the child will be impacted going forward. The courts consider many factors when determining child custody and visitation arrangements. This includes:
- Age of the child
- The child’s wishes (provided the child is of sufficient age)
- Past parenting behavior
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- History of domestic violence or abuse
A common misconception is that one parent’s financial instability will affect the final child custody determination. This is not true. The courts understand that wealth does not equate to successful parenting.
When child custody arrangements no longer fit the lifestyles of the child or parents, a modification may be necessary. There must be a significant change in circumstances to warrant a modification:
- Change in age of child requiring a change of custody
- Change in the residence, which would affect the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent
- Change of school or educational needs
- Disability of parent or child
- Change in preferences of the child (most often considered if the child is a teenager)