Although Massachusetts may not be ahead of the curve when it comes to child custody, things are moving. Governor Deval Patrick recently set up a task force of attorneys, psychologists, elected officials, parents and community members to review proposed changes to the Commonwealth's child custody laws.
There's a nationwide push to enact child custody laws that require parents to share custody equally except in cases involving abuse, drugs or alcoholism. As reflected in legal changes across the country, these advocates seem to be gathering steam. As the director of the South Dakota Bar Association said, "The best interest of the child or children trump the interests of the filing parent."
Child custody battles resulting from divorce or the breakup of relationships are all too common. In many instances they involve children abducted across state lines or even out of the country because of child custody disputes. Especially in the latter instance, it can be very difficult for the other parent to be reunited with his or her child.
Even when things are going badly in a relationship, most people realize that divorce should be a last resort. This is particularly true when there are children involved. As the divorce process picks up and both parents begin to look toward the future, it is important to keep a close watch on children and how they are being affected by the decision.
Lots of couples go to other states to get married. They go to romantic places where they can have a vacation, where it is convenient for friends and family, and where they can be legally married. This last is especially important same-sex couples, as three-quarters of the states in the U.S. do not recognize same-sex marriage.
A recent Q & A in the divorce column of the Boston Herald centers on a man whose ex-girlfriend is seeking child support for a child he did not want and whose birth appeared to be the cause of the breakup three years ago. He had heard nothing from the woman until recently, when he received court papers demanding past and ongoing support and other costs for the three year old girl.
Legal and mental health professionals often assume that parents who cannot even talk to each other are poor candidates for developing co-parenting plans. They assume that children will be caught in their parents' conflict and be irreparably damaged. This attitude was based in part on research that confirmed that children in high-conflict situations do not do well.