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Massachusetts child custody

Courts in Massachusetts make custody decisions based on what is in the child's best interests. The court may decide with which parent the child will primarily reside and provide visitation rights to the other, or, if the court determines neither parent's home is appropriate, the judge may instead place the child in the care of an interested third party. Additionally, the court may assign decision-making authority to one or both parents.

Following a dissolution, an earlier child custody order may later be changed through a post-dissolution modification proceeding. If the court finds circumstances have changed to the extent a change in custody is necessitated, a judge may then so order. Examples of changes that might necessitate modification include such things as a parent's plans to move or a parent's conviction for a crime.

In cases in which one parent is convicted of first degree murder for the death of the other parent, Massachusetts law specifically prohibits any person from bringing a child to the prison to visit the convicted parent. If the child has reached a sufficient age to consent to such visitation, the child may sign a consent for visitation of the convicted parent on his or her own.

Whether parents have been married or not, child custody and child support decisions are complex and involve many factors and court-established guidelines that help courts determine what is in the best interests of a child. A parent going through a custody hearing may benefit from speaking with a family law attorney who has experience in this area.

Source: malegislature.gov, "Children; care, custody and maintenance; child support obligations; provisions for education and health insurance; parents convicted of first degree murder", October 05, 2014

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