When filing for custody of a child in Massachusetts, many parents become so caught up in the general tasks that they forget the specifics. According to Mass.gov, parents need to consider the differences between legal and physical child custody. They also need to understand parenting time arrangements and the four custody types allowed in the state.
Sole physical custody allows the child to live with one parent while maintaining reasonable parenting time with the other. In cases of shared physical custody, the child may have the opportunity to live with both parents. Sole legal custody provides one parent with the responsibility of making all the major decisions that affects the child, including health care and education. Finally, shared legal custody includes both parents in the decision-making process.
When parents cannot agree on a particular arrangement, this further complicates the process. It also takes the decision out of their hands. In these instances, the court may make the final decision. This may include where the child lives, how much parenting time is considered reasonable and who will have legal custody.
Mass.gov advises that both parents have the right to file for custody of their children, whether they choose sole or shared custody. However, unmarried fathers may need to establish paternity before filing for custody. Also, for Massachusetts to have jurisdiction over the case, the child must have been a resident for at least six months.
This article provides information on child custody taken from the MA state website. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal advice.