Disagreements between married individuals can lead to divorces. In Massachusetts, a couple can seek to end its marriage and in the process may negotiate or have a court settle all matters related to alimony, property, child support and child custody. When it comes to splitting children’s time between the homes of their parents, courts look to serve the best interests of the children subject to their determinations. Serving those best interests can involve taking into account a parent’s history of violence or other detrimental proclivities.
When one parent is unfit to have control of his or her children, courts can award sole custody to the other parent. Sole custody gives the custodial parent full control over the legal decision-making power for the children and permits the children to live exclusively with that parent. A noncustodial parent may have visitation rights awarded by the court, but that visitation can be subject to the limitations of the court and may require supervision for any times the noncustodial parent is with the children.
A parent may be deemed unfit for child custody for a variety of reasons. Prior charges of or convictions for child abuse can prevent a parent from securing custody of his children. Allegations or convictions of domestic violence against another family member can also keep a parent from having custodial time with his kids. Drug addiction and other dangerous lifestyle choices can prevent a parent from having custody rights over his children.
Courts want to preserve parent-child relationships but also must keep children safe. For this reason, some parents are awarded sole custody of their kids when the other parents are unfit to have control over their children. To learn more about child custody matters in Massachusetts or to have a specific custody matter addressed, please consult with a family law attorney.