The custody of children in a divorce settlement is most often the hardest for parents to agree. There are a number of reasons why, but in the end it is the love and concern for the wellbeing of the children that leads in most cases for both parents to want an active role in the raising of their kids.
In many cases, custody arrangements can be readily agreed upon and there is little drama when it comes to the custody of the children. However, there are also many times when one parent wants a more active role that the other parent does not agree. Or, that one parent has concerns about the other parent’s ability to raise the children.
It helps to have a better understanding of the different types of custody in Massachusetts. There are currently four basic types of child custody when it comes to the divorce settlement.
Joint Physical Custody: This means that both parents will have large amounts of time with the children. In this regard, both parents will have significant contact with the children on a continual basis. This will mean that both parents will play a large role in being with their children as they grow.
Sole Physical Custody: This means that one parent will have sole physical custody of the children and shall reside with them. The parent granted physical custody will have to draw up a visitation plan for the other parent that must meet with the court’s approval.
Joint Legal Custody: This means that both parents will share the responsibility about making decisions in regards to the education, health, and wellbeing of the children. This assumes that that having joint legal custody is in the best interest of the children. Both parents will need to agree upon a plan that also meets the approval of the judge.
Sole Legal Custody: This means only one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions about the education, health, and wellbeing of the children. The other parent does retain their visitation rights, but does not have a say in their children under the terms of the sole custody agreement. It should be noted that this is the most common type of custody agreement that is granted.
It should be noted that visitation rights are still a murky area when it comes to how the laws govern the practice. It is true that the parent with an interest in the welfare of the child is entitled to visitation that is considered reasonable. However, the actual time of visitation will vary considerably depending in large part on the divorce settlement.
While most courts would rather see joint legal custody, many divorce agreements make that type of ruling impractical. To protect your legal rights during a divorce settlement, it is best to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney. They can provide you with valuable information, options, and proper representation in court.
By having a divorce attorney present at the beginning of the process, you increase your chances of getting a settlement that is more in your favor. This is why you should choose an experienced attorney in divorce matters.