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State lawmakers consider fathers' rights in new divorce changes

Most people think of divorce as a contentious process between two people who really don't like each other anymore. In this stereotypical situation, each spouse wants everything: all the money (and none of the debt), the family home, and, of course, the kids. And in the midst of all the arguing, what is really in the best interest of the child is buried among arguments about assets and hurt feelings.

While the courts are responsible for digging the child's interests out of the heap, even the law that the courts apply don't always support the best interest of the child. Traditionally, the mother has been awarded primary custody barring some limiting factor such as physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse, or other behaviors that could be detrimental to the child. The Massachusetts legislature is trying to change the traditions and stereotypes that have been at the heart of the family law system for decades.

The proposed changes, if adopted, will create a new approach called

"Child-Centered Family Law." The policy of the law is to achieve the goal of meeting the best interest of children though "safe, healthy, and meaningful relationships between children and their parents." In terms of fathers' rights, this system may promote a decision-making process that puts the father on a more even plain with the mother when determining visitation rights and even custody.

If the bill becomes law, the state of Massachusetts may see an evolution of more equitable rights between parents. But even without the law, fathers can still fight for their rights in court. With the assistance of experienced counsel, it is possible to argue, and win, against stereotypical traditions.

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