Can Children go to Court to Testify about who they want to Live with in Massachusetts in custody decisions?
No. The courts do not want children to be directly involved with the Judge or the court process. There can be exceptions. However, there are ways to get the child’s voice heard; including a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”), a probation or family service officer can be ordered to speak to the child or an attorney can be assigned; which is called an “ARC Attorney” to represent the child’s interest. The more mature and verbal the child is, the more the court will give their preference a larger factor, but even though they are considered, they do not control what the Judge is going to do.
If my Spouse has a child from a Prior Marriage, can I get Visitation Rights?
It is very difficult in Massachusetts even if you can prove that you have a strong and significant relationship with the step-children to have court ordered visitation rights. If you adopted the child, you certainly could, but step-parents do not have visitation rights for the child. Sometimes there can be sibling visits ordered; so, if there is a step-child and a biological child there can be visitations with you during that aspect of it.
In Massachusetts, who gets to keep the Pets?
In Massachusetts treats pets as marital property. It is becoming more of an issue in Court, but a lot of the time different Judges view it different ways, but they might assign pets to whose has been the primary caretaker of that pet.