What is a list of some of the Factors that the Court Look at in terms of Custody?          

Again, the Courts look at what is in the best interest of the child. Some of the factors include: each parents financial and physical ability; to provide the children with both essentials and beyond such as food, medical care, shelter, clothing, each parent’s medical history, physical and mental. Again, this might not be the case for most people, but if there is a physical limitation or a mental condition that would impact the parenting that can be a factor.  The children’s age, gender, medical history, both physically and mental and if the child(ren) have special needs.  The parents work schedule and habits are things that can draw negative imprints, such as excessive drinking, smoking, use of drugs. The bond between the child and the parent, what each parent is looking to do, what each child seeking as well depending on the age, the parents willingness to work on having the child have a relationship with both parents, the difference in terms of the stability for the child and how things would be looked at if they were to stay in the same house; or the same district and the impact it might be if they were to move.  The quality of life the child has in keeping things as a status quo.

There can be other factors as well, such as whether there are false allegations against parents, the parents criminal record, if any, restraining orders, if any, DCF involvement, if any.

My Spouse and I Recently Separated and Filed for Divorce.  We like to figure out a Custody and Visitation Schedule Without the Courts deciding that, is this Possible?               

Yes.  The Court has to approve the Agreement as fair and reasonable.  Usually, the Judge is very much in favor of parents working out a schedule on their own. The parties can do that on their own or can do that with a Mediator or through their attorneys.  It is a beneficial decision for the parents to make rather than a Judge because the parents know what is in the children’s best interest probably more likely than a Judge would and a Judge can end up deciding that neither parent likes.

Can anyone other than a Parent get Custody of a child?    

The answer is Yes and No.  Usually, it is just the parents that would get custody. However, if DCF is involved DCF can take custody or there can be a third-party custody.  In addition, there are guardianship’s, adoptions and other circumstances where a grandparent, aunt/uncle, other relatives, close members of the family or a friend can seek, but they must show that the parents either are currently unfit, unwilling or unable to meet the child or children’s specialized needs; so, it is not an easy process to do.  In addition, there is a statute allowing grandparent visitation in Massachusetts; although it is restrictive.