Massachusetts family law prioritizes fairness and what is best for the children in a family. When parents divorce and don’t agree about custody, they can ask a judge to help them resolve the matter. A judge should look carefully at the family circumstances, giving each parent equal consideration, and then determine the best way to divide parenting time and other parental responsibilities.
For most families, a litigated custody scenario will end in shared custody arrangements. However, in certain situations, a Massachusetts state judge may agree to award one parent sole custody. When is seeking sole custody of realistic goal in a Massachusetts divorce?
When your ex admits they can’t parent
Sometimes, one parent will readily admit that they are not capable of parenting for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a demanding job, or maybe they have pending criminal charges that might mean a lengthy incarceration. If one parent openly acknowledges that they cannot provide for the children, parents can settle their custody matters outside of court and have a judge approve sole custody arrangements.
When there has been an issue with domestic violence
If one parent has a history of domestic abuse, that misconduct can play a significant role in the outcome of custody proceedings. Even if they ask for shared custody, police reports and medical records corroborating allegations of abuse may prompt a judge to deny their request. Both situations that involve someone abusing their children or abusing their spouse in front of their children may affect the custody decisions.
When one parent has a chemical dependency issue
Addiction can affect every area of someone’s life. If your spouse has a problem with misusing pain medication, consuming prohibited street drugs or drinking too much, their addiction may impact their ability to adequately parent your children. If you have proof of substance abuse by your spouse, that can influence how much parental responsibility a judge will give them.
When one parent has physical or mental health issues
An adult’s health has a direct relationship with their ability to parent. Someone struggling through aggressive chemotherapy likely won’t be able to parent on their own. Someone dealing with severe mental health issues may mistreat their children or fail to meet their needs. Records showing significant behavioral problems or diagnosed conditions that affect someone’s parenting could ultimately influence the custody order.
If you can’t make a case that your ex having custody is not in the best interests of the children, then your chances of securing sole custody are low unless they don’t want parenting time. Learning about the basics of child custody in Massachusetts can help you better prepare for an upcoming divorce.