How Can I Prepare For the Best Outcome in Child Custody?

Whether you are a married or unmarried father, some tips and tricks can help you best prepare for custody of your children in the future. This article will discuss that so you can have the most positive chance of maintaining a vital and consistent role in your children’s lives.

Custody Options in Massachusetts

There are four options for custody in Massachusetts. Shared legal custody, shared physical custody, and sole legal or sole physical custody. Shared means that both parents share time and decision-making abilities regarding their children. Sole means that one parent has more of a say or more time with their children than the other parent.

Physical custody refers to time with the child and caring for their basic needs such as feeding, homework, bedtime, and more. Legal custody refers to making decisions regarding medical needs, school issues, religious options, and more.

Maintain Strong Relationships

One of the best ways to provide evidence that you wish to remain in your child’s life when facing custody issues is to maintain strong relationships with the children and their mother. Whether you are married to the children’s mother or the relationship has ended, it is vital to provide evidence that you can work together to co-parent your child in the future.

Courts will always default to doing what is best for the child or their best interest. Regardless of almost all other factors, that is the top priority.

Even if the relationships can provide challenges, keeping the end goal in mind and working together as best as possible is essential. Keeping a journal through writing and pictures can help establish that you are a constant in your children’s lives and wish to remain as such.

Be present at your children’s medical appointments, sporting events, and other social functions. Showing up is helpful to your children’s well-being and can ensure a documented history of you playing an active role and changing that would be detrimental to your child.

It is also important to note that documented negative communication can work against you in the future. If you can resist negative comments or behavior when communicating with your child’s mother, they will have less proven reason to ask for more time with your children than you receive as their father.

Unmarried Fathers

If you are married to the children’s mother, it is easier to assume by the courts and others involved that you are the children’s father. If you are not, you must provide proof that you are the children’s father before you can pursue custody.

To establish paternity, you can complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage form with the child’s mother. You are both required to sign stating that you both agree that you are the child’s natural father.

If the child’s mother disagrees with your paternity or refuses to sign the paperwork, you can pursue a DNA test through the courts to legally establish paternity.

Can a Father Get Child Support?

Either the mother or the father can be eligible for child support payments. Child support can be available in the form of consistent payments made to one of the parents to aid them in financially supporting the child or children. This arrangement is typical when one of the parents has sole physical custody of the child.

The adequate amount for child support is determined by a judge and is calculated based on several factors. Some of those factors include the income of both parents, costs associated with raising the child (which can differ throughout various stages in their lives), and extenuating factors such as extra medical bills that the child requires or elevated costs of specialized education or sporting needs.

Are Mothers Favored in Massachusetts?

Historically, mothers used to be favored in several, if not all, states. This trend is no longer the case. Mothers are not inherently more capable of raising their children, and the courts honor this.

Judges will always lean towards what decisions are best for the children, regardless of the gender of the parent. The myth that children will always be with their mothers regardless of the circumstances is untrue.

Due to the judge having ultimate discretion, it is difficult to measure the parameters used in determining custody. As a father, this means that if you are engaged and active in your child’s life and have evidence supporting this, you generally have a great chance at shared custody with your children.

How Do Attorneys Support Fathers?

It can be challenging to provide sufficient evidence that you are engaged and active in your child’s life or have been from the beginning. An experienced attorney can help to gather evidence that supports this so the courts can see that you have been and wish to remain a strong presence in your child’s life.

If you need to pursue legal evidence that you are the children’s father, they can represent you on your path to do so. They can also provide professional legal guidance from years of working with families to ensure that you are not inadvertently making mistakes that could jeopardize your efforts in the future.

You are not alone in your desire to remain in your child’s life and provide for them. You have rights, and you have options. Contact our office today at (781) 531-8673 to learn more about your options based on your specific circumstances and to ensure that you aren’t settling for less than you deserve concerning one of the most critical aspects of your life: being a parent.