Child custody agreements in Massachusetts are increasingly changing to account for new technology and methods of communication between parents and children. Technologically based communication, otherwise known as virtual visitation, is considered to be an enhancement to regular physical visitation that allows parents and children greater access to one another outside of regular court-ordered visitation. This form of visitation is frequently encouraged to foster stronger emotional bonds and permit children and parents to stay in more regular contact.
A Massachusetts parent who has been a victim of abuse at the hands of the child's other parent may be fearful of having to interact with that individual during future visitation dates. The potential for continued abuse is also an important concern to courts that are determining visitation schedules in child custody cases. Supervised visitation may be ordered if there are risks for a child or the custodial parent during these times. This is a program devised to ensure the safety of a child as time is spent with a parent.
When a Massachusetts couple goes through a divorce, in most cases one parent will become the custodial parent while the other parent will have visitation rights. While many non-custodial parents ensure that they visit with their children during their scheduled parenting time, others decide that they no longer want to or cannot see their children.
Massachusetts residents who are divorcing a spouse with a history of violence often have concerns about their children's safety and their own safety. Parents who want to ensure their children's safety may have questions about their ex-spouses' eligibility to receive custody or visitation rights if they have been abusive toward their families in the past.
In Massachusetts, grandparents may win visitation rights to their grandchildren. While it may be possible to limit the time that grandparents have to see their grandchildren, there needs to be good reason to do so. For instance, if a grandparent is abusive to the child or teaching the child to hate his or her parents, that may be grounds to limit visitation time. However, a court will not typically deny a grandparent visitation rights simply because a parent requests that such a ruling is made.
Figuring out child custodial issues can be a difficult endeavor, but even once they are resolved, further complications can arise when it comes to visitation by the noncustodial parent. In some cases, a judge will order a fixed visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent, but when two parents can manage to work together, they may agree on "reasonable visitation". Massachusetts parents who agree to this see several benefits, but this type of arrangement isn't right in every situation.
Massachusetts residents are likely familiar with the statistic often cited by the media that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. While that may have been true in the 1970s and 1980s, figures show that the divorce rate has been falling steadily for several years. Observers say that if current trends continue, the divorce rate will fall to about a third in the near future.
Under certain circumstances, it may become necessary for a Massachusetts custodial parent to relocate with his or her child. However, this may create logistical problems if the other parent has the right to visit or has partial custody of the child. Typically, it is the responsibility of the relocating parent to come up with a visitation schedule that is agreeable to the other parent and in the best interests of the child.
While a divorce case is pending in Massachusetts, a judge may issue temporary child custody orders. These orders last only until the final divorce and custody hearing, at which time the judge will hear evidence and issue the permanent custody orders that will govern the child's residence, visitation and the parents' responsibility for decision-making.
As is the case in other states, there are two types of child custody arrangements that a Massachusetts court could order when parents end their marriage. The types are legal and physical custody, and such arrangements might be ordered as part of a divorce settlement that is accepted by the court or through a litigated divorce.