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What kinds of custody are there in Massachusetts?

What kinds of custody can you have in Massachusetts? That depends on the kind you want to have, but generally speaking, there are four types: sole legal custody, sole physical custody, shared physical custody, and shared legal custody. Each is slightly different, giving each parent different rights and responsibilities.

With sole legal custody, one parent can legally decide how to raise the child and which decisions should be made for the child's welfare. For instance, if you have sole legal custody and your ex wants your child to be raised as Christian, you could opt to instead raise your child as a Buddhist without any legal ramifications. If you were in a situation where you had shared legal custody, then you would have to work together with your ex to determine how you can both make decisions that impact your child's religious, emotional, and moral development.

With sole physical custody in Massachusetts, the child in question lives with one person. Usually, the child also has visitation with the other parent, but the court may decide not to allow visitation if that time with the other parent wouldn't be in the best interest of the child. In a case where shared physical custody was decided, both parents will have periods of time where the child will reside with them. For example, one parent may house the child during the school year, and the other may house the child during the summer months.

Regardless of the kind of custody you want to have, a judge will likely determine the kind you get if you and your ex can't work it out on your own. Your child's best interests will be the basis for any decision that is made.

Source: Massachusetts Legislature, "General Laws," accessed June 15, 2015

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