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Massachusetts child custody reform? Some say ‘no’

The first part of this two-part post explored the arguments that advocates are making in support of reforming child custody laws in Massachusetts. In a quick recap, the proposed legislation would add a few amendments. The primary change would force the courts to make joint custody the first choice, excluding cases involving an unfit parent.

A primary argument in support of reform involves gender; that judges grant more women sole custody than men. Advocates against reforming the laws argue that gender has already been excluded as a factor in child custody decisions. For them, it is more of a case of using a statistic to support an argument without knowing all the facts.

Another argument alleges that requiring joint custody first would take the focus away from the child and his or her best interests. A judge considers a wide range of factors from the viewpoint of the child and how it will affect him or her.

The law provides for very flexible determinations under this structure. Requiring joint custody would not work for every family. More importantly, it wouldn’t allow for the varying considerations required to ensure the children remain the priority in all decisions. Even domestic violence advocates have weighed in on this side of the debate, arguing that forcing joint custody isn’t the answer.

Child custody is determined under current law. The best interests of the child is the current standard. Parents should have an attorney on their side they can trust and who will take the time to get to understand the needs of their particular family.

Source: Eagle-Tribune, “Advocates push for shared parenting in divorce cases,” Christian M. Wade, March 26, 2015

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