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Updating child custody laws in Massachusetts

In the past two years, Massachusetts has reviewed and reshaped its laws on divorce and child custody. The new proposal surrounding child custody is that children do better overall when both parents are active in their lives after a divorce. With Massachusetts updating its child custody laws, the state will become more in line with other jurisdictions that are also updating their own child custody laws.

The revision of the state code with regard to child custody will impact some divorce cases, especially couples who cannot agree during the negotiation phase and need the court's intervention. The change in the laws will set up certain expectations for parents who are divorcing and seeking child custody rights. It will prioritize a child's well-being over any of the parents’ conflicting issues and seek to determine a parent’s ability to raise their children.

This new proposal will change the negative terminology used in child custody proceedings to more neutral terms. For instance, instead of the word “visitation” being used, it will be replaced with “parenting time." These changes will reinforce the belief that children function and do better when they have equal, quality time with both parents. When it comes to children’s well-being and safety, the courts can still make decisions about what is the best situation for them.

Child custody cases are emotionally stressful times. Divorced parents often fight about the amount of time they get to spend with their children. In Massachusetts, successful child custody cases can help parents resolve their disputes in a manner that is fair and is truly in the best interests of the children involved. If everything works out, children can still have the benefits of having both parent actively involved in their lives.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Massachusetts custody proposal rightly stresses time with both parents", , May 18, 2014

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