One of the most important issues any parent will face in a Massachusetts divorce is who their child or children will live with. Will they share custody? Will one parent have full custody, with the other having visitation rights? Will the child’s preference have anything to do with the court’s decision?
In this blog, you’ll find out the commonwealth's stance on custody and a child’s preference. You’ll also find out what a skilled family law attorney can do to protect your parental rights during or after a divorce.
How a Child’s Preference Impacts Custody Agreements
In Massachusetts, a child cannot simply pick which parent to live with. Custody and visitation are not determined based on a child’s preference alone. However, a child’s wishes will be taken into consideration by the court before making a custody decision—if the child is mature enough to have a reasonable opinion on the matter.
The exact age at which a child may be considered to have a rational opinion about custody and their living arrangements will vary on a case-by-case basis. A general rule of thumb may be that a child who is at least 10 years old may be considered mature enough to make this decision, but some older children may not be mature enough to voice their preference clearly or make the court see why they would like to live with one parent over the other.
Even if a child is mature enough, their preference will be only one of many factors that the court will take into consideration. The court’s role is to make decisions based on the best interests of the child. Custody orders are not to be taken lightly, and the typical preference will be to keep both parents as involved as possible in the child’s life. In some situations, though, a child will be better off living with just one parent. For more information, see: How Do Judges Determine Child Custody in Massachusetts?.
So, while the short answer is that a child can’t just decide which parent to live with, the long answer is that their preference may influence the court’s decision on the matter—if the child is mature enough.
Talk to a Massachusetts Custody Lawyer Today
Divorce is difficult enough without having to worry that you might not have custody of your child or children when all is said and done. If you have questions about what your child’s preference may have on your custody arrangement, our team at Miller Law Group, P.C. is standing by to help. If your child wants to live with you, we know how to help you show how this is in their best interests. If your child has expressed that they do not want to live with you, we can look into the matter to see if you are being subject to parental alienation, or if there are other ways to show that shared custody would be better for your child. We can even pursue sole custody.
For more information on custody and how a child’s preference can impact this, call (508) 502-7002 or contact us online. We’re happy to offer insight to help you make the right choices about your case.