It is an unfortunate and popular myth that, in regards to fathers’ rights in Massachusetts, fathers are never awarded custody of their children. Many years ago, there was a Massachusetts law that gave preference to mothers when determining the custody of young children. However, it is an outdated law and is no longer applied in any Massachusetts courts. Current Massachusetts custody laws are gender neutral and based upon the best interest of the child standard.
Is it True Fewer Fathers Have Custody in Massachusetts?
Currently, fathers’ rights in Massachusetts depend on the division of responsibilities between parents. As a practical matter, Massachusetts child custody arrangements tend to be based upon the obligations and lifestyles of the parents. During the course of most relationships, a natural division of responsibilities arises. Breadwinning realities and expectations often require one parent to be out of the home more than the other. In the past, this may have led to increased rates of custody awards to mothers because fewer women were in the workplace.
More recently, the majority of custody arrangements are determined by agreement between the parents. In many instances, there is one parent who has greater financial and career responsibilities, while the other has more time available for childrearing. The parents themselves often agree on custody and parenting time based upon their respective schedules.
Typically, the parents will agree that the one who has more available time will have primary physical custody. It is when the parents don’t agree that a judge must determine with whom the children will spend more time.
Child Custody Types in Massachusetts:
These custody types vary in parent responsibilities and involvement of a child’s upbringing and life decisions like education, medical care, religion, and emotional development.
- Shared legal custody: Both parents are involved in and responsible for major decisions about the child.
- Sole legal custody: One parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions about the child.
- Shared physical custody: A child has periods of living with each parent, so the child has frequent, regular contact with both parents.
- Sole physical custody: A child lives with one parent, and the other parent has reasonable parenting time unless a court decides that parenting time is no longer in the child’s best interest.
Read more about the types of child custody in Massachusetts.
Presenting Your Child Custody Case
Fathers’ rights in Massachusetts is not about proving that the other parent is a bad parent or that you are the better parent. It is about showing that a particular arrangement is best for your children. You will want to show that you are actively involved in your children’s lives. This includes showing that you are dependable and available to provide for their daily needs. You must show that you have a nurturing and safe home environment.
At Fraier & Maillet, our Worcester divorce attorneys understand the important and unique role that each parent plays in raising their children. We will work towards negotiating a fair custody arrangement that provides for ample time with both parents. We will advocate for the best interests of your children, and when necessary, we will litigate to ensure your rights as a parent are protected.