Westborough Child Custody Lawyer
There are many tough decisions that divorcing parents may face. Determining how to best care for your child can be challenging in any circumstance, but a divorce can result in further complications. In some situations, a divorcing couple may come to an agreement through negotiations. In other circumstances, parents may have difficulty agreeing, and, as a result, one parent may feel unsure about what their next steps should be. For help protecting your parental rights, reach out to O’Connor Family Law.
You do not have to leave your child’s future to chance. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our legal team can help you demonstrate to the court how the custody schedule you want is also in your child’s best interests. Speaking with our Westborough child custody lawyers can help you prepare for what comes next.
What Does the “Best Interest of the Child” Mean?
The guiding principle for all custody decisions made by a judge is known as the “best interest of the child” standard. This standard requires the court to focus on how custody decisions would best benefit a child, not necessarily simply what their parents want. Under Massachusetts’ state law, when the child was born during his or her parent’s marriage, each of the parents heads into a custody hearing on equal footing. There are certain issues that, of course, will affect that presumption – drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues that could lead to the neglect or harm of a child, and varying other factors.
Besides considering what is in the best interests of the child at issue, there are no formally set factors the judge must consider when deciding child custody matters. Therefore, judges who hear these cases have wide discretion under the law to do as he or she sees fit so long as the judge believes it is in the child’s best interest.
When you or your attorney is making an argument to a judge about what the custody order should be, the focus should be on showing the judge how the child would be affected positively by having the custody you are seeking and how the child would be affected negatively by having the custody your ex-spouse is seeking. Oftentimes, to determine what is in the child’s best interest, judges will prioritize the child’s welfare, happiness, and stability. When making decisions regarding custody, the judge will often consider the past and previous care and living conditions provided by each parent. Additionally, the court may take careful consideration of any physical or emotional trauma a minor may have suffered.
The law empowers courts to use their best judgment about what is best for the child after considering the arguments made by both sides. This could mean that the judge decides to choose one proposed custody plan over the other, or, the judge may create a plan of his or her own that might combine different aspects of each parent’s proposed plan or be different altogether. Our Westborough attorneys could help a client present their proposed custody plan effectively.
Types of Child Custody in Westborough
There are two types of custody that must be determined in any case involving children: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody dictates with whom and where your child will reside. Legal custody determines who has the ability to make legal decisions over your child.
A judge may award sole or shared physical or legal custody. If the judge awards one parent sole physical custody (sometimes also referred to as “primary placement”), the child will live with that parent the majority of the time and usually spend approximately 30% of the time with the non-custodial parent. Shared physical custody, on the other hand, involves minors sharing significant time between the homes of both parents. This may be on an equal 50-50 basis or could be somewhere between 30% and 50% of the time.
Legal custody relates to decision making on behalf of the child. If a parent has sole legal custody, they alone are entitled to make determinations regarding the child’s health, education, and religious upbringing. However, shared legal custody allows both parents to have an equal say in these types of decisions. Our Westborough custody attorneys can work to obtain a favorable outcome for a parent seeking a child custody order.
Speak with Our Westborough Child Custody Attorneys
If you want to ensure that you have the best chance at getting the custody arrangement you believe is best for your child, our dedicated team at O’Connor Family Law can work tirelessly to try to help you obtain outcomes you desire. Passively waiting for someone else to make the decision for you does not usually get you the best results, especially if you have an ex who likes to dictate the time or the say that you can or cannot have with your child.
Whether you are seeking sole or shared custody, your choice of legal help is crucial to obtaining the result you want. Contact our Westborough child custody lawyers today to get started on your case.