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Is child custody being based on gender in Massachusetts?

The divorce process tends to come with a good deal of stress, especially when children get stuck in the midst. Child custody can become fiercely contested in many divorces involving children. Massachusetts judges are required to consider a child's best interest as the primary factor in any decisions that are made regarding custody and visitation rights. The idea that many child custody decisions could be based on personal presumptions is shocking to some.

Recent studies have shown that many custody rulings may not have been based on the needs of the child, but rather by the gender of a parent. The statistics from these studies show that mothers are awarded sole or primary custody of their children in the majority of divorce settlements. The significant variance in custody decisions is not supported by circumstances such as domestic violence, which was only applicable to a small number of these cases.

The father's lack of a physical role in his children's lives is often ignored. Evidence has shown that when fathers are the non-custodial parent, they only end up spending around 20 percent of the available time with their children. A new bill up for consideration would make more provisions for parents to have equal time with their children. This could better benefit those children who do not receive the proper nurturance due to a lack of time spent with one of their parents.

Child custody battles can increase the stress already prevalent in a divorce. However, if both parties seek what is best for the children, the results can be better for everyone involved. Understanding Massachusetts' child custody and visitation laws could ease the process of going through a divorce for many spouses. By fully utilizing the resources available to them, parents who are fighting for child custody could significantly increase their odds of obtaining the results they are hoping for.

Source:, Gender disparity in child custody awards is judicial relic that needs to end, No author, Jan. 20, 2014

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