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Child custody challenges in high-conflict divorces

For any parent who is going through a divorce, concerns related to child custody are often top-of-mind. Many divorcing parents have questions about how custody decisions are made as well as if these decisions can be appealed or amended. While it’s typically easiest and best and when parents are able to agree about the terms of custody and visitation, this unfortunately often isn’t the case in high-conflict divorce cases.

When family law courts and judges are called upon to make custody and visitation decisions, several factors must be considered and weighed. For example, a judge will seek to discover more about a child’s relationship with each parent as well as each parent’s level of involvement and interest in a child’s life. Additionally, a judge will take steps to assess a child’s, as well as each parent’s, physical and mental health and also whether living with either parent poses a potential hazard to a child’s overall health, happiness or welfare.

Even when divorcing parents aren’t able to agree about the terms of a child custody agreement, a judge may still award joint legal and/or physical custody of a child. Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to influence or make decisions related to a child’s medical care and academics whereas physical custody pertains to the parent with whom a child lives. When parents who are at odds with one another are ordered to share custody, it goes without saying that there’s bound to be some tense moments. However, in many cases, this truly is the best arrangement to ensure that a child is afforded the ability to develop a close relationship with and obtain the love and support of both parents.

Parents who have concerns about child custody matters are advised to seek the advice of an attorney who handles divorce and family law matters. Child custody orders can be amended and such amendments often make sense as a child ages and his or her needs change.

Source: Massachusetts Legal Help, “Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Visitation,” Feb. 18, 2016

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