As any divorced person knows, the process leading up to the granting of the final divorce decree, although necessary, is often fraught with challenges. Divorcing Massachusetts residents who are parents also understand that, during the separation period and following divorce, parenting time becomes precious. Often, divorcing parents choose to co-parent their child or children and manage to create an amicable arrangement that can allow children to thrive in a stable environment rather than suffer the negative effects of their parents' decision. Parents who have chosen this route can benefit from a few co-parenting rules.
When a couple decides to separate, no matter the circumstances, emotions are typically running on high. When that couple also has children, they may find it especially challenging to put those emotions aside when making custody decisions throughout the divorce process. However, doing so will only benefit all parties involved, particularly the children. For Massachusetts couples who are engaged in a child custody dispute, here are a few points to keep in mind to ease the process.
As an active and involved father, you need the legal protections of paternity. Without establishing paternity, you cannot exercise your parental rights or create a child custody agreement that would guarantee access to your child. This is important even if you are on good terms with your child's mother.
Parents tend to be laser-focused on figuring out custody matters during divorce, and understandably so -- time spent with children is precious. Parents in Massachusetts may worry that their ex getting primary custody will not only limit their own parenting time, but will also not be in their child's best interests. A new Massachusetts bill aims to address this common child custody worry.
Time spent with children is precious, but some parents still are not getting enough of it. Unlike past generations, Massachusetts fathers now take on far more involved roles with their children, but many custody arrangements do not reflect this shift in society. Now perhaps more than ever, fathers are complaining that they are not allocated enough parenting time in their child custody agreements.
It is not uncommon for Massachusetts parents to disagree over how to split custody of their children. Some divorces even drag out for longer than necessary while parents try to sort out the best possible child custody agreement. Now though, "pet parents" are starting to go through the same thing.
Looking forward to welcoming a new baby is exciting for the mother and father to be. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, sometimes a child is born into a difficult situation that may involve addictions or family strife. If the circumstances potentially endanger the child, tough decisions may need be made that could include removing them from their biological parent or parents and granting child custody to another capable family member.
Divorce can be complicated, especially when a child is involved. If nothing else can be agreed upon between the separating couple, one thing should be settled: do what is best for the child. Traditionally, child custody was awarded to the mother full time, while the father shared part-time responsibility. However, many modern-day families, including those in Massachusetts, are choosing different custody options after divorce in order to bring more stability to the child.
As many are already aware, having two loving, attentive and involved parents is the ideal situation for every child. Barring extreme circumstances such as abuse, this is why an increasing number of advocates across the nation are pushing for a presumption of equally shared child custody from the beginning unless a reason is shown why this should not be the case. Unfortunately, a number of states, Massachusetts included, still have some catching up to do.
In 2017, over 20 states -- Massachusetts among them -- considered legislation to encourage or even presume shared parenting from the get-go in divorce. This more equal approach to child custody would be legally presumed even when parents didn't agree, though of course would not apply in cases of abuse. Despite the predictable criticism that faces almost any proposed law, the legal trend toward collaborative parenting and shared custody seems only to be accelerating on a nationwide level.