Child Custody Attorneys in Methuen, MA
Resolving Complex Custody & Visitation Issues
Caring for children after a divorce can often be an ongoing source of conflict between former partners. It is important that the initial custody determinations and any changes that happen in the future are guided by a Methuen family law attorney who has extensive experience handling such sensitive and emotional cases.
The attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. have the experience and compassion you need on your side during child custody negotiations. At our firm, we handle all types of family law cases and we know that each parent has legitimate interests at stake in custody disputes. Whether the parties are divorced or were never married, our firm works to reach custody and visitation agreements that are healthy for the children and the parents.
Understanding the Basics of Child Custody
There are two types of custody in Massachusetts.
- Physical custody: Who the child lives with on a daily basis.
- Legal custody: Who is authorized to make decisions concerning the child’s upbringing (schooling, religious instruction, healthcare, etc.). When both parents share physical, and or legal custody of a child, it is called "Joint Custody." When only one parent has custody of a child, it’s referred to as "Sole Custody."
Sometimes the two parties can agree to a custody arrangement, other times the court determines one for them. In the past, courts regularly granted mothers physical custody and gave the fathers visitation rights, while awarding both parents joint legal custody. In a case where it is up to the courts to make a custody decision, the judge will make his ruling, ultimately, based on what is in the best interest of the child or children. Factors a judge will take into consideration when determining the best interest of a child include:
- The parent’s wishes
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s relationship to each parent, and their relationships with other siblings and relatives
- The child’s age, sex, and physical and mental health
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The lifestyle of each parent
- Each parent’s ability to provide food, shelter, guidance, and healthcare to the child
- The child’s established living pattern (school, friends, community, etc.) and what the impact of disrupting that pattern would be.
- Any history of child abuse
- Whether a parent is current on child support payments
A custody arrangement made by a court is legally binding unless it is amended by a court at a later date. Failure to comply with such an agreement is considered "Contempt of Court."
Changing a Custody Agreement
As a child ages, or as a parent’s situation changes, it may be necessary to amend a child custody agreement. This may be caused by a parent remarrying, relocating, developing a health issue, or having their paternity called into question. When changing a custody agreement, it is vital that you consult a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Whether you want to claim custody of a child, contest or modify a custody agreement, or workout an amicable parenting plan, the child custody attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. can see that the needs of you and your child are met. Call (978) 327-5140 today for a free consultation.
- Four Tips to Protect Your Children During a Divorce
- Massachusetts Law about Child Custody and Parenting Time
- Section 31: Custody of Children; Shared Custody Plans