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Numerous factors when planning child custody arrangements

For most divorcing Massachusetts parents, the issue that tends to be first and foremost on their minds is the children. One concern is how the divorce might affect them, but other issues involve who will have parenting time with the kids, and how often? Regardless of which child custody options are on the table -- true joint custody, joint custody with one parent given primary physical custody, or sole custody -- there are a lot of issues to consider.

When attempting to figure out a plan, the initial step may be to determine what, exactly, each parent is hoping for in terms of a parenting schedule. It can also help if each parent examines his or her motives; of course, both parents typically want as much time as possible with the children, but are the hopes and goals realistic or merely proposed out of spite? It's important to ensure that parenting plans realistically and adequately meet the needs of both parents and children.

For starters, courts primarily focus on the best interests of the children, though will likely favor a plan that is realistic for everyone. Additionally, parenting plans will be made part of a court order, which are usually difficult, time-consuming and costly to modify. Regardless of how poor the status of the inter-parent relationship is, it's important to remember that each spouse is still the children's other parent and a part of their lives. 

It makes sense to plan for immediate, current day-to-day needs, then also try to anticipate what changes may be required as the children grow and mature. Whenever possible, flexibility is a key element. The decisions made during divorce proceedings can affect everyone for years to come. A Massachusetts family law attorney can help address child custody issues in order to achieve a fair and realistic parenting plan that meets the best interests of the children.

Source:, "You're Divorcing Your Wife, Not Your Kids: Tips for Child Custody, Visitation and Co-Parenting", Audrey Silcox, Oct. 29, 2017

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