The issue of custodial rights is emotional and highly charged for both parents and adolescents. A family lawyer is necessary to assist families to move towards a rational and practical outcome, focusing primarily on the best interests of the children.
These laws vary on a state-by-state basis, and it is essential that parents are aware of such governing laws, as well as their options for taking legal action to protect their child’s rights. The primary goal of determining legal guardianship is to decide what is best for the children involved, now and in the future.
By hiring a family law attorney, parents can assess their child custody rights and decide how to proceed with winning primary responsibility of their son or daughter.
There are many different custody laws which parents should be familiar with as they are facing either separation or divorce. With this quick guide and introduction, you will get a basic overview regarding information, regulations, guidelines, and processes for these financial obligations.
Massachusetts Child Custody Guidelines
The formula for determining how much money is legally obligated considers the gross income of each parent, the cost of medical care and child care, and any other financial obligations already being paid. The guidelines also separate cases into either primary physical custody or joint custody cases.
Types of Custody Arrangements in Massachusetts
Sole Legal Custody
The custodial parent is the primary caregiver and makes all major decisions regarding the minor child’s health care, mental health, emotional health, extracurricular activities, and well-being.
Shared Legal Custody
Both parents have a mutual responsibility in decision making for the minor child.
Sole Physical Custody
The minor child lives with one parent, while the noncustodial parent gets reasonable visitation rights and parenting time, providing it is in the best interest of the child.
Cases where the child may be restricted from seeing the non-custodial parent include parental unfitness, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, and history of abuse.
Shared Physical Custody
Both parents share parenting arrangements, joint responsibility, parental rights, and parenting time. The custody of children is split between both parents.
The regulations state that the amount owed for child support payments can be modified, but only when there is strong evidence that there are material changes to circumstances. This could include a child’s injury to the disability of a parent, to a sizable change in income or assets, the addition of new siblings to the family, and more.
Also, custody and support laws state that child support is terminated at the point at which one of the following happens first: the minor turns 18, gets married, or becomes self-supporting.
If the two parents combine to make more than $10,000 per month, the formulas no longer apply. In this case, the court determines the amount owed based on what the needs of the children are.
Where to Find Public Information
The state publicly provides much of this information. However, it can sometimes be hard to sort through on your own. That’s why working with qualified and experienced family law attorneys in Massachusetts is so crucial. Our Law Firm is entirely up to date on all child custody laws and will know what is possible, how best to proceed through the family courts.
That being said, there are vast resources available online. For example, the Department of Human Resources website, mass.gov/orgs/human-resources, provides a PDF report going over all issues of divorce, separation, and legal custody.
The same site also offers forms and worksheets to download and complete which take into account current calculations, who the primary custodial parent is, and child support laws to determine precisely what financial obligations may be required.
There are county by county agencies for the enforcement of child support laws. These agencies also provide many other services, and many family lawyers highly recommend that you work in conjunction with them and your family law attorney.