A judge will be unlikely to respond to the argument “My ex is a bad influence” or “My ex doesn’t know what is best for the children.” Judges hear these arguments all day, every day, during acrimonious divorce proceedings. What a parent needs to prove the former partner is not a fit parent is plenty of evidence.
The aim of divorce courts in deciding custody arrangements is to further the best interest of the child or children. For young children, this might mean keeping them with their primary caregiver. Otherwise, the court looks for a parent’s involvement with children, ability to provide financially, and ability to provide a stable environment for children. Ultimately, the accepted standard derives from Massachusetts statute that provides “the happiness and welfare of the children shall determine their custody.”
Importantly, Massachusetts courts will take into account all relevant facts concerning the divorce, including, but not limited to, whether any member of the family abuses alcohol or other drugs, or has deserted the child, and whether the parties can cooperate with each other regarding issues that concern the child. Additionally, domestic violence in the home and the effects on the child will be taken into consideration when custody issues are at play.
If you have evidence of disturbing patterns of behavior towards yourself and/or your children at the hands of your (soon-to-be) ex-spouse, this could form the grounds for you to receive primary custody.
Whatever the circumstances, if you are considering divorce and/or a modification to your current custodial arrangement, please contact our office for a consultation in order to better understand your rights.