child custody

After a three month maternity leave, and a few months adjusting to being a full-time working mom, I’m excited to be back to contributing my thoughts to this blog! I’m also excited to be writing on a topic that I not only find interesting but also encounter a great deal in my practice – interstate custody disputes.

Pure Home State Jurisdiction

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a piece about the differences between child custody laws in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with a specific focus on the differences between the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). As detailed in the previous post, Massachusetts was the lone hold-out in adopting the UCCJEA, retaining pure home state jurisdiction when determining where to litigate child custody disputes.… Keep reading

parent education program
“Whaddya mean, I have to take a class!?”

As a family law attorney, I’m often met with surprise (even outrage!) when I tell my clients that they’re required to participate in a Parent Education Program in connection with their Massachusetts divorce. People always say that it’s so much easier to get married than it is to get divorced, and that’s not entirely without merit.

While everyone knows that divorce is a costly process, both financially and emotionally, litigants too often become so focused on their own pain that they lose sight of the emotional toll the process can put on their children. Recently there have been some important changes to the Parent Education Program.… Keep reading

Thinking of moving? Check the child custody laws in that state to see if there are differences.
Thinking of moving? Different child custody laws in each state may make things even more complicated.

While the borders between Massachusetts and Rhode Island appear to be incredibly permeable, this is just not the case when dealing with custody of children. With few exceptions, the home state of the child is where a court proceeding for custody of that child must be commenced. The home state is defined as the state he or she has resided in for six months prior to the beginning of custody proceedings. Put a different way, the residency of the child, not the parents, determines where an initial custody proceeding must be brought.… Keep reading

Hi there,

Here is the first topic in the series: Top 10 Topics to Consider When Getting Divorced.

If you have kids who aren’t grown up, then this can be the most difficult area to navigate.  You will want to consider all of the topics in A and B below, and you may need to consider the topics in C, D and E as well.

A.  Legal custody, joint vs. sole, what legal custody means; who makes major decisions such as health, religion, education, moral development; and/or emergency decisions?

Most folks end up with joint legal custody, which actually is presumed to be the default format in Massachusetts.  Joint legal custody means that the parents need to communicate, and hopefully agree on the major decisions listed above.  This can be very hard in a high conflict situation, and impossible in a situation involving violence, mental health or substance abuse issues.  In fact, the state is asking people who are getting divorced because they can’t communicate, to continue to communicate about their children.

I have the utmost respect for those who manage sometimes after the divorce is done, to step back, take themselves out of the equation and … Keep reading

Hi there,

Along with pretty much everyone else I have been reading the ongoing saga about Michael Jackson’s death, his children and lastly, his will.

I am disturbed at a professional level by the revelations coming out about his children, in particular Blanket (remember the baby and the balcony?). It resonates as somehow buying children.  I have not seen anything in what I have read that indicates that Jackson adopted Blanket. What I have read indicates that Jackson (or more likely, his employees) paid for and arranged the pregnancy. Other than money, Jackson had no connection with this child. Given his personal history it would seem to me that he was not a good candidate to be an adoptive parent.

Most states have laws that try to prevent the purchase of children through just this situation. In a number of cases, the Massachusetts courts have decided that certain factors must be considered when determining the enforceability of a surrogacy agreement; if no compensation is paid to the surrogate other than pregnancy-related expenses and if she consents to the father having custody after a reasonable amount of time has passed following the child’s birth, then the court would … Keep reading