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Legal Information: Massachusetts


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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

Are there any additional factors a judge will consider when deciding custody between parents who were never married?

If the parents were never married, and the judge decides to give sole custody to one parent, the judge is supposed to:
a. keep the relationship between the child and the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child, if possible;
b. consider which parent the child lived with during the six months immediately before the custody hearing; and
c. consider whether one or both parents have established a close, parental relationship with the child, or acted responsibly in the child’s best interests.1

In order to grant joint custody to parents who were never married, the judge can only do so if:

  1. the parents agree; or
  2. the judge finds that the parents:
    • have successfully shared joint responsibility for the child in the past; and
    • they can communicate and plan with each other concerning the child’s best interests. 1

1 M.G.L. 209C § 10(a)