Legal Information: Massachusetts


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October 24, 2018

If I have moved away from the home, leaving my children with the abusive parent, will this affect my chances of gaining custody?

Maybe. It is likely that the judge will look at who has been the primary caretaker for the child when deciding who the child should live with, which means the judge will look to see who has been and who is currently spending the most time with the child, feeding the child, taking the child to school, etc.1 If you have moved away from your child for a significant period of time, it may be harder to argue that you have been the child’s primary caretaker.

However, it is important to remember that a judge will take into account past or present abuse committed by one parent against another parent.2 Therefore, if you have moved away to escape abuse, you can explain to the judge why it was necessary for you to leave the home where your child currently lives.

Note: Before leaving the home without your children, we strongly suggest that you consult with a lawyer (if at all possible) for advice on how this could affect your chances of getting custody based on the facts of your particular situation.

1 Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. "Family Law Advocacy for Low and Moderate Income Litigants: Child Custody" (2008)
2 M.G.L.A. 208 § 31A