How Do We Decide on Custody?
Custody is often the most important but most threatening part of a divorce.
When it comes to spending time with your child, facing the prospect of having to share your time with your spouse can be upsetting. Many people are afraid their spouse will “win” custody and prevent them from seeing their child. One parent getting full custody is relatively rare and almost always a decision made for you by a judge. This occurs when the health, safety, or well being of the child is put at stake when spending time with one parent. In the vast majority of Massachusetts divorces, however, both parents will share custody of their child and have some say in what the custody arrangement will be. It can be hard to know how to decide on a custody arrangement. The best rule of thumb is to make sure whatever arrangement you work out is in the best interests of your child.
If you are wondering where to start when working out a custody arrangement with your spouse, it is a good idea to speak with a divorce mediator about the options you have. A typical shared custody arrangement may have both parents sharing physical and legal custody, where one parent has the child during the week and the other parent during the weekend. Not every family will be able to accommodate this schedule.
Discuss your options first and pick a starting point. Then tailor your custody arrangement from there, working to meet the needs of both of your families as well as your child.
It may help to review the factors a judge would consider when deciding on custody. The Probate and Family Courts want to see every child spending sufficient time with both parents.
This is seen as the healthiest arrangement. Bearing these factors in mind, the court will need to approve your custody agreement for it to be legally enforceable. Speak with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator about your custody options and what standards the court will be looking for in your custody agreement. Joint legal and physical custody is often the most beneficial arrangement for the child.
Beyond this starting point, how you share your child’s time and what decisions you each will get to make is up to you, as long as you keep in mind your child’s best interests.
Do you have questions about custody?
Mediation Advantage Services can help. Experienced in divorce mediation, Polly A. Tatum can help you and your spouse with your custody issues, helping you avoid going to court. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 795-1557, fill out our online form, or email us at [email protected] today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.