In Massachusetts, child custody rulings are based on the best interests of the child. The court will always place a higher priority on what they deem is best for the child, rather than what the parents at odds may prefer. There are many different options and it is up to the courts to determine what is best for your family.


Joint Temporary Legal Custody – This is when the parents share decision-making authority regarding a child who is a minor. This is the most common situation in Massachusetts. When seeking joint legal custody, the party must prove to the court that joint legal custody is in the child’s best interest.

In general, there are four main considerations with regard to legal custody:

  • religious upbringing of the child(ren)
  • medical care of the child(ren)
  • extracurricular activities
  • education.

Joint Physical Custody – Joint physical custody is typically an arrangement where the parents share equal or nearly equal parenting time. This parenting arrangement is typically only accomplished by agreement and by demonstrating to the court that a joint physical custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Judges will assign one parent as the primary and the other as secondary.
Sole legal custody – In this scenario one parent has the right and responsibility to make all major decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.

Sole Physical Custody – This situation is a little less unusual. Massachusetts State Law  states that with Sole Physical Custody “a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to reasonable visitation by the other parent, unless the court determines that such visitation would not be in the best interest of the child.”


Usually, when one parent has physical custody, the other parent has visitation with the children. Often there is a visitation schedule agreed upon by the parents. If there is good communication between the parents, sometimes they may not need a visitation schedule. In this situation, the parents may leave visitation flexible and arrange visits between themselves. In visitation agreements and court orders this is referred to as “reasonable visitation.”

When communication between the parents is not good however, it is in everyone’s best interest to have a detailed visitation schedule. With this, the parents won’t have to be in constant contact to try and agree of visits each week.


If you have any further questions regarding child custody in Massachusetts or if you’re looking for representation in your divorce or child custody battle, please don’t hesitate to contact Attorney Mike Saurez.

The Law Office of Michael Suarez

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