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Shared custody concern: No one-size-fits-all solution

When Massachusetts parents file for divorce, the primary issue on the table becomes child custody. Those who practice family law assert that child custody cases are among the most highly contentious and contested form of law. Even among couples who have little interest in arguing over issues such as the division of marital property, when it comes to issues surrounding their children, the gloves come off. Some opt for some form of shared custody in an attempt to gain equal parenting time with their children.

However, the concept of shared or equal custody is not universally accepted among those who practice or are involved in family law. When it comes to the debate about whether such a practice should be statutorily mandated, many in the profession object. One point of view asserts that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all divorce, not should child custody issues be handled in a standardized manner.

Each family is unique, and the skills and abilities that each parent brings to the table are also disparate. In the majority of scenarios, it would be far better for the child or children involved to remain in the primary care of the parent best suited to provide for their needs, both financially and emotionally. In addition, in cases in which there are questions of substance abuse, instability or physical or psychological abuse, shared or equal custody just doesn't make sense.

While most states have not embraced the concept of mandatory joint or shared custody, there is certainly a trend toward these types of arrangements. For Massachusetts parents who feel that they are best suited to act as the primary physical and legal custodian for their children, it may be necessary to approach a family court to ask for a clearly outlined custody order. In addition, if circumstances have changed since the creation of an existing order, it is possible to approach the court and request changes that would be in the best interests of the child or children at the center of the issue.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Why Equal Child Custody Should Not Be Presumed," Henry Gornbein, Aug. 29, 2012

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