Perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of divorce or separation is the arriving at an agreement about the support and custody of the estranged couple's children. This stress can be enhanced when one or more of the children begin to view one of the parents as the wrongdoer. Massachusetts social workers have observed and studies have supported two different types of parental alienation. The first is when the child's negative views of one parent are supported and encouraged by the other parent. The second is when the child begins to alienate from a parent without being provoked to demonstrate such behavior.
Massachusetts residents may be interested to learn that "Gossip Girl" actress Kelly Rutherford has asked a federal court to grant the U.S. government custody of her two young children in a last-minute bid to keep them from returning to France to live with their father. The children, ages 5 and 7, are currently visiting her in New York.
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.
In 2010, U.S Census data estimated that approximately 80 percent of the custodial parents across the country were women. Advocates for child custody reform, like the Boston-based National Parents Organization, often cite statistics such as this in support of new legislation.
Many Massachusetts residents are Facebook users and are aware of the types of information that can be found on such a site. For divorce lawyers, some of this material can be important when dealing with contested issues such as spousal or child support. If an individual claims that he or she is unemployed, it could be damaging if the other spouse's attorney found a picture of that individual buying a large car or a new house.
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.