Skilled And Focused Legal Advocacy For Custody, Visitation And Child Support
Child custody and parental visitation are sensitive, critical aspects of family law litigation, and decisions made in that process will have a significant impact on your children and your parenting role.
In Massachusetts, courts must consider the best interests of the child when hearing child custody and visitation matters. This standard requires the court to weigh various factors such as the level of tension and disagreement between parents. Even the input factors for a child support calculation may be a source of argument between parents who have separated.
Custody, visitation, and child support require the knowledgeable, compassionate, and responsive representation that Tracey & Associates, PC provides.
We Excel At Resolving Complex Custody Disputes
Our experienced lawyers handle custody and visitation matters in connection with divorces and partnership dissolutions, legal separations, annulments, abuse prevention, and parentage actions. We have a successful track record in settling and litigating legally complex, high-conflict matters, such as:
We diligently work toward favorable outcomes for our clients, prioritizing your children’s needs and interests.
Understanding Massachusetts Custody Law
Massachusetts distinguishes between “physical” and “legal” custody. If a parent has “sole physical custody,” the child resides with that parent. The court may issue orders allowing visitation to the parent who does not have physical custody. If the parents have “joint physical custody,” then the child resides with both of them, for a timeshare division that is equal or roughly equal between the parents. A visitation schedule is arranged to define this timeshare. If a parent has “sole legal custody,” that parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare. If the parents share “joint legal custody,” both parents are legally entitled to share in such decisions.
Massachusetts contemplates that child custody can be assigned in a number of ways:
Massachusetts does not presumptively favor a particular custody assignment. Both the court and the family have wide discretion to establish a parenting plan that serves the child’s best interests. Parents who cannot agree to a child custody agreement will have to rely on the court to resolve these issues or the parties can rely on neutral third-parties, such as mediators and conciliators, to try to resolve them. Of course, mediation is effective only if each party is willing to compromise. If one or both parties cannot do so, then litigation will be necessary.
At times, confidential mediation can have as its sole purpose the attempt to reach a full agreement on the child-related issues, such that the parties will not have to appear before a judge (except to approve any agreement). The parties can also reach a partial agreement, resolving some issues together and leaving the rest for the judge.
After a case is filed, sometimes it is necessary to secure from the court temporary child custody and support orders during the pendency of the case. Again, these temporary arrangements can be resolved between the parties without having to rely on the court. Both parents have a statutory right to a child custody trial, the result of which will be the issuance of permanent orders. It is in your best interest, and that of your children, for you to have an attorney to advise you during any mediation and advocate for you during these adversarial court proceedings.
Knowledgeable Counsel & Effective Representation