How Can I Get Sole Custody in MA?

By Elizabeth Rayne

When going through a divorce that involves children, custody is always of concern. Obtaining sole custody of a child in Massachusetts requires an understanding of the factors that a judge can consider when making custody decisions. The process can involve procuring witnesses and other evidence. You can visit an online legal website if you need referrals for local attorneys who handle this issue.

When going through a divorce that involves children, custody is always of concern. Obtaining sole custody of a child in Massachusetts requires an understanding of the factors that a judge can consider when making custody decisions. The process can involve procuring witnesses and other evidence. You can visit an online legal website if you need referrals for local attorneys who handle this issue.

Sole Custody in Massachusetts

Massachusetts recognizes two types of sole custody: sole physical custody and sole legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. Legal custody refers to making important decisions for the child including decisions relating to education, religion, or healthcare. In an arrangement whereby one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent is usually given reasonable visitation unless the court decides otherwise. It's up to the discretion of the court as to whether the child will have overnight or weekend visits with the parent who has visitation rights.

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Best Interest of the Child

When determining the custody arrangement, like all state courts, Massachusetts courts are primarily concerned with the best interests of the child. The law starts with the premise that, absent misconduct, the rights of each parent in a custody case are equal. From that standpoint, the court determines custody based on the emotional, physical, and moral health and needs of the child. A parent seeking sole custody might wish to present evidence to the court showing that she is more capable of meeting the child's emotional and physical needs than the other parent. For example, a parent might indicate that since she works from home instead of commuting to a workplace, she has more time to spend with the child, or she might present witness testimony that she always attends the child's dance practices or soccer games, whereas the other parent is never there.

Cases of Abuse

If a parent is seeking sole custody because the other parent is abusive, the parent seeking custody might present evidence that includes photos, hospital records, documentation of criminal charges and restraining orders, or relevant witness testimony. She might also present evidence of alcohol or drug abuse, such as documentation from a treatment program, to convince the court that an award of sole custody is in the child's best interests. Other relevant evidence might include letters from the child's doctor, teacher, or counselor.

Custody Ruling

In cases where the parent seeking sole custody provides evidence of abuse or that a pattern of abuse exists, the court will presume that it is against the child's best interests to award the abusive parent physical or legal custody. The judge might also order supervised visitation. In rare cases, the court might determine that the child should not have any contact with the abusive parent -- and will not award any visitation.

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What Does Sole Custody Mean for the Other Parent?

References

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Nebraska Divorce Standards for Child Custody

Child custody standards, like many other aspects of divorce and family law, vary by state, so Nebraska courts apply Nebraska laws when deciding custody issues during a divorce. Spouses can agree on the best arrangement, or the court can decide on its own. Either way, the court’s primary concern is finding an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

How to Petition for Sole Custody in New York

Sole custody is a custody arrangement in which one parent has sole decision-making authority over the child in addition to providing the child's primary residence. The other parent is almost always awarded some form of visitation. Because custody disputes can be complex and stressful, it's wise to hire legal counsel if your ex does not want you to obtain sole custody. However, you can begin the process on your own.

Filing for Physical Custody in Virginia

Both parents and Virginia courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interests of the child in a divorce case. Therefore, a parent may be awarded joint or sole physical custody based on this standard. Custody orders, however, may not always be permanent. Should circumstances change, either parent may ask the court to modify the custody order.

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