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Massachusetts task force to propose child custody statute

Many states have started analyzing the way child custody is awarded by judges. More and more are considering the possibility that child custody be awarded in a 50/50 split except when domestic violence or substance abuse is an issue. In Massachusetts, a task force is currently working to propose a new statute governing how child custody is awarded.

While opponents to changes in the current law that would make shared custody mandatory argue that it may prohibit a judge from making decisions that are in the best interests of the children, those in favor of the law list several reasons why such changes would be beneficial. First, historically, the courts have been more likely to award custody to a mother because they were generally the primary caretaker. However, the role of a father has changed significantly over the course of several decades, leaving many men as equal caretakers with increasing numbers of stay-at-home dads.

Also, some people claim that courts are giving more power and control to the custodial parents. Noncustodial parents are left with little control over significant portions of their children's lives, leaving them feeling frustrated and, possibly, alienated. Finally, it seems that most Americans favor changes in laws that would support equal custody, according to recent polls.

In all proceedings related to divorce and child custody, it is important that the best interests of the child is kept in mind. However, some people argue that allowing sole custody, in many circumstances, serves the best interests of the parent seeking sole custody, not the child. Many would argue that a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessary, but others would counter that changes in states such as Massachusetts could benefit what is currently a noncustodial parent and his or her children.

Source:, Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 28, 2014

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