What is Custody

So you want to have a better understanding of What is Custody?  Great, let’s get started!  When we talk about Custody we need to understand what types of Custody there is.

Physical Custody

The first type is Physical Custody. Physical Custody is where the child resides, where the child physically lives. This only makes sense, when you think about it, every child needs a residential address. The parent that the child lives with is called the Custodial Parent. The Custodial parent has the right to make the “every day decisions” in the child’s life with out the other parent’s (the Non-Custodial” parent) input into the decision. The Custodial Parent makes these decisions unilaterally. Examples of the everyday decisions or Physical Custody decisions are, what clothes the child will wear, what snacks the child will eat during the day, what the child will have for dinner, etc.

Legal Custody

The second type of Custody is Legal Custody. Legal Custody allows the parent to make decisions concerning major issues in a child’s life such as Health, Education, Medical Care, Religion and Emotional Development.

Legal Custody can be granted to one or both parents. When Custody is granted to one parent it is called “Sole” Custody. When granted to both parents it is called “Shared” or “Joint” Custody. What this means is both parents will have a part in making decisions for the child.

If one parent does not include the other parent in making decisions for the child/ren in a “joint custody” situation, he or she may be taken into court by the other parent for failure to abide by the court order.

The courts usually will grant Sole Physical Custody to one parent and Joint Legal Custody to both parents. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts favors having Joint Legal Custody between the two parents. The view is to have both parents be part of the child’s life and be responsible for the child’s safety, health and welfare.

The laws in Massachusetts do not focus on the gender of the parent when deciding whom Custody should be granted to. Instead the law concentrates on the best interests of the child and which parent might meet best these interests.

The court will often seek to place the child in the least disruptive living arrangement while a divorce between the parents is currently being litigated. The court will weigh the following factors when deciding where Custody should be granted; school, family, siblings, present living arrangements, who the present caregiver is, relationship to the parents, history of substance abuse, physical abuse, DCF involvement.

Whoever the Custodial or Non-Custodial parent is, parenting takes two. Both parents will always be parents together. It is important to remember that the best interest of the child should be paramount. Parents needs to show the child unfailing love, support and guidance throughout their lives.

Attorney James J. Hoffey is well experienced in custody and can assure you will get the best outcome possible outcome in your situation. Contact Hoffey Law Office in Brookfield, Massachusetts at (508) 867-2649 or jhoffey@hoffey.com for a
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