Child Custody in Massachusetts

When parents go through a divorce, they also have to take their children into consideration. Divorce greatly impacts an entire family, not just the parents. When parents cannot come to a conclusive custody agreement, they may have to go to court to solve the issue. Custody determines who the child spends their time with and who is responsible for decision-making. There are different types of custody to be considered by families. An experienced attorney can assist in guiding you to the right arrangement for your family.

Physical Custody

Physical custody, also known as residential custody, is where the child lives. If a parent has physical custody, it means they are the primary caretaker and the child spends the majority of their time with them. This status also designates the parenting times of the other parent involved.

Joint Custody

The best scenario for child custody cases is when parents can come together to decide a situation that is in the child best interest. A joint custody agreement allows both parents to divide their time equally with the child. They work together to create a more favorable situation for the family to cooperate on matters in the child’s life.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody deals with a parent’s influence in their child’s life. This grant’s a parent the right to be involved in decisions about their child’s day-to-day life. This includes opinions in matters regarding health care, academics, religion, and more. There are two types of legal custody: Joint Legal Custody and Sole Legal Custody. Joint Legal Custody allows both parents to have a say in making decisions for their child. Sole Legal Custody gives decision-making rights to the child’s primary caretaker. A parent can lose legal custody over a child if they are found to be an unfit parent.

Factors Considered

There are several things to be considered before coming to a conclusion of a custody agreement. These factors may include:

  • If a parent can provide a child with home stability
  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • Whether or not parents are willing to accept custody
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • History of domestic abuse
  • The needs of the child
  • The safety of the child
  • Each parent’s fitness
  • The proximity of each parent’s home
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age


If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal representation for child custody, call the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.