Exceptional Legal Representation
Bristol County Child Custody Attorney
A Dedicated Advocate to Help You and Your Child Move Forward. Serving clients throughout Northfolk County, Plymouth County, Cape Cod & the South Shore Area
If you are facing a custody battle, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your child is to retain legal representation. The stakes are high in custody cases, and the outcome could largely decide your and your child’s future. Attorney Rachel M. Matos is a dedicated advocate who will fight tirelessly for your rights and interests as a parent. She will help you build a strong case for custody based on your goals and needs, and she will also make sure the parenting plan serves these interests. Child custody cases can get heated, but Attorney Matos will do her best to make the process as stress-free for you and your child as possible.
Take the first step toward resolving your custody dispute with the Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos. Schedule an initial consultation online.
Legal Custody and Physical Custody
Massachusetts offers two categories of custody – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the decision-making authority a parent has to make choices on behalf of the child, such as regarding education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to who the child will reside with and spend time with.
The court can order sole custody held by only one parent or joint custody shared by both. For example, the court might award joint legal custody to one parent and sole physical custody to both. In such a situation, both parents have the right to make legal decisions for the child, but the child will reside primarily with one parent. To ensure the noncustodial parent and the child still maintain a relationship in this scenario, the judge will allow a parenting time (visitation) schedule for the two to spend time together.
One important element of custody arrangements is the parenting plan. Parenting plans outline the custody and parenting time arrangement for both parents in detail. It is recommended that parents work together to propose a mutually agreed-upon parenting plan that they will submit to the court for approval. The court may accept, modify, or even reject a plan, based on how the plan meets the child’s best interests (below).
Parenting plans should include the following information:
- a detailed residential or visitation schedule, including a holiday and vacation times or a method for addressing such a schedule;
- provisions indicating how the parents will make decisions regarding the child's education and health care; and
- provisions describing how parents plan to resolve any future disputes.
The Best Interests of the Child
The main guidelines for a Massachusetts judge presiding over custody cases are the child’s best interests. The judge should make the best decision for custody and parenting plans based on the child’s needs, which is to the judge’s discretion to identify. For instance, the child’s best interests often include:
- the child’s welfare and happiness;
- the child’s present or past living conditions;
- the child’s relationship with each parent;
- each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities;
- the child’s home, school, and community;
- whether either parent has a history of domestic abuse or child neglect;
- each parent’s willingness to foster a frequent, continuing, and quality relationship between the child and the other parent;
- both parent’s moral fitness;
- each parent’s physical and mental health;
- any other factors the judge deems relevant in the case.
Generally, the court presumes it is in the child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with both parents regardless of custody. So, even if one parent does not have primary residential custody of the child, they will be granted parenting time with the child (unless the parent has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse that poses a danger to the child). In some situations, if the court deems it safe and appropriate for the child to spend time with a parent who has been abusive, they may order supervised visitation.
Modifying a Custody Order
Naturally, the child’s needs change as they grow, and a custody order that had been in place for years may no longer be appropriate or serve the child’s best interests. Either parent has the right to file a motion to review or modify a custody or parenting time order.
Parents can either mutually agree to modify their schedule to better fit the child or, if they cannot agree, the court will rule on the request for modification if the following hold true:
- there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances of the parents or child since the last order; and
- a modification is necessary to serve the child's best interests.
“Really great service!” - Erick T
“I was extremely grateful and bless for her service” - Luis A.
“I am glad that I know I will be able to count on her” - Liolga A.
Child custody disputes are never easy to handle, especially when the stakes are high and emotions run tense. After all, the outcome of your child custody case will largely determine your relationship with your child moving forward. As a result, you can trust that the Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos will take your custody case seriously and advocate zealously for your parental interests. We will provide dedicated and tireless representation as we work towards a favorable outcome.
Schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos online to get started today.