How is child custody determined in Massachusetts?

There are two types of child custody: legal custody (who makes important decisions for the child) and physical custody (where the child lives). Parents can agree on child custody, and as long as the court believes that doing so is in the child’s best interest, it will approve the parents’ agreement about custody.

If the parents cannot agree on custody, the court will decide. Massachusetts courts usually prefer for parents to share legal custody if possible. To promote stability for the child, one parent is usually granted primary physical custody with the other having parenting time.

Courts make custody decisions by considering several “best interest” factors, including who has been the child’s primary caretaker, the child’s ties to their current school and community, and each parents’ willingness to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.