Throughout the divorce process, ex-spouses are not always able to come to a mutual agreement that the court views as being in the best interests of the child. When this happens, it can be necessary to file a Complaint for Custody, Support & Parenting Time to protect parental rights and those of the child. It is common for both fathers and mothers to utilize this protection to ensure their parental rights throughout the process. If you are anticipating a divorce with custody issues, or are going through one at the moment, our team of father’s rights attorneys at O’Connor Family Law can help. 

Asserting Your Role in Physical Custody

There are two primary elements involved in divorce in Massachusetts, those of physical custody and legal custody. When parents agree as to the ideal custody arrangement for the child and the court concurs the process can move smoothly. However, when there is disagreement about the suitability of one parent over another concerning their capacity to parent the child, the court’s level of involvement can be significantly greater. 

Working with an experienced Westborough father’s right attorney ensures that the process moves as smoothly as possible, and that your needs as an involved father are accounted for and given equal weight. Additionally, you are insulated from much of the time associated with negotiating your ideal outcome as we handle your case for you on our own whenever possible. 

Physical Custody is Determined by the Courts with the Child’s Best Interests in Mind

Physical custody is the legal element of a child’s custody that determines where they will live, whether that is full-time with one parent or through shared custody. When one parent is the full-time parent, or the custodial parent, there will also need to be a visitation agreement to ensure that the non-custodial parent has the right to see their child. 

Within the context of physical custody there are two primary types:

  1. Joint physical custody – this term is used to describe situations in which the child will be living within both of their parents’ homes, with time split evenly or as close as practicable between the two
  2. Sole physical custody – through this form of child custody, the child will remain in one home for the majority of time following the divorce and splitting of the couple and their residences. 

Generally the courts prefer that both parents of a child remain active within their lives as this oftentimes provides the greatest benefit to the child. Given this position of the courts, the most common ruling is in support of joint custody. 

You can expect that the courts will be objective in their decisions, with the primary focus being the child’s best interests. The courts prioritize the best interests of the child whenever possible, which is generally joint custody, however there are external factors that the court will consider that can negatively impact one parent’s physical custody rights, including: 

  • When the physical distance between parents could lead to an excessive amount of time spent commuting on behalf of the child 
  • If there is a history of abuse between the spouses or abuse of the child 
  • In instances where one parent is either unreliable, or they are unable to care for the child 

Beyond the determination of physical custody, it is also essential that parents take into account the concept of legal custody of their children when processing a divorce. Children and their best interests are naturally the focus of courts, parents can sometimes get lost in the stress of the process and be short-sighted. Partnering with a Westborough father’s right lawyer is crucial for navigating this challenging terrain and securing a fair custody arrangement that prioritizes your role as a father.

Legal Custody Includes a Bundle of Decision-Making and Parental Rights

Much like physical custody, legal custody is something that can be shared between parents in the form of joint custody, or one parent may have sole legal custody over the child. While the courts prefer that both parents hold joint custody – ensuring fathers have a say in shaping their children’s lives – that is only the case when it is in the best interests of the child. 

Legal custody includes the right of parents to influence and determine a broad variety of factors in the life of the child, namely: 

  • Decisions concerning the education of the child
  • The religious affiliations or practices that the child is exposed to
  • Mental health care provided to the child 
  • Extracurricular activities the child is allowed to participate in 

The education, religion, and mental health of a child have a strong influence over the way in which they are able to live their lives. Extracurricular activities such as sports that may have the risk of concussions or other adverse health impacts can also be the source of ongoing arguments between parents concerning the Custody, Support & Parenting Time Order. When you have not taken these factors into account prior to undertaking the process of your divorce, it can cause delays and complications later on. 

Why Father’s Rights Matter & How We Can Help

Divorce proceedings can be emotionally and financially taxing, particularly when children are involved. Seeking guidance from knowledgeable attorneys specializing in father’s rights ensures your voice is heard and your rights as a parent are protected. From advocating for equitable custody arrangements to addressing concerns over visitation and support, our team is dedicated to championing fathers’ rights throughout the legal process.

Speak with a Westborough father’s rights lawyer online or by calling 774-703-3755 to learn how we can help. We have the knowledge and experience necessary to consider all main factors concerning custody, and to ensure that you have a legal and physical custody agreement that is in the best interests of your child, while also respecting your rights as a father.