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Can a father get custody in Massachusetts?

You may have the idea that judges give preference to mothers when determining custody of children in divorce proceedings. This was true in the past, but things have changed. Now, the courts in Massachusetts don’t favor mothers over fathers. Instead, they base their decision solely on the child’s best interests.

Who gets custody?

You and your ex can agree on sharing legal and physical custody of your child. However, the courts will make that decision if you cannot reach common ground. The judge will choose who to give custody to based on the child’s best interests rather than the parent’s gender. To determine the best interests of your child, they will consider some factors such as:

  • Your child’s preference if they are old enough
  • Your relationship with the child
  • Your child’s need for consistency or continuity in their education and community
  • Who is more likely to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child
  • Who is more likely to encourage contact with the child and the other parent

The courts will evaluate your and your ex’s personality and lifestyle with the same scrutiny and objectivity. They won’t favor your wife unless the circumstances are against you.

The mistakes of the past

A judge will only deny you custody of your child if they believe that harm could come to your child for contacting you. Mostly, the courts take away a father’s parental rights when they have convincing evidence that the father abused the child in any way. However, they follow the same procedure if a mother abuses the child. Additionally, both a mother and a father can lose custody of their child if they have certain criminal convictions or an ongoing substance abuse.

Your right as a father

You must not be afraid about losing your child to your ex if you have been a responsible and a present parental figure in your child’s life. The courts understand that no one is perfect, so small mistakes may not cause a tragedy. Under the law, you and your ex are the same, and both of you have the right to fight for your child in court.