How Hard is It For Fathers To Get Shared Custody in Mansfield, MA?

Being awarded 50/50 custody, or equal custody, has become increasingly achievable. This trend is thanks to legal reform, changing societal perceptions, and the logistical fact that more women work outside the home and need support from their partners. As a result, judges recognize the importance of both parents being actively involved in their children’s lives and have moved away from the traditional bias favoring primary custody awards to mothers.

But that doesn’t mean 50/50 custody is a given. Fathers pursuing 50/50 custody still need to prepare a strong case, making support from a Mansfield family law attorney beneficial. As a father pursuing equal custody or a custody arrangement close to equal, here are a few issues you should consider.

The Best Interest Standard

A parent’s goal should be to create a parenting schedule that prioritizes what will be in their child’s best interest. Ideally, the parents will decide on this schedule collaboratively. When parents cannot reach an agreement, the court must step in to resolve the issue.

Family court judges recognize that shared parenting time generally aligns with the best interest standard, which is gender neutral. In its assessment, the court will consider numerous factors (discussed in more detail below) before implementing an arrangement that supports the child’s needs.

Utilizing this standard promotes stability and emotional well-being for the entire family and an environment conducive to healthy development for the child. Co-parenting arrangements that focus on what benefits the child the most provide the child with a foundation for maintaining strong relationships with both of their parents.

The Child’s Bond With Each Parent

In Mansfield custody proceedings, the strength of the child’s bond with each parent and the parents’ individual histories of caretaking play important roles. Judges consider factors such as each parent’s involvement in their child’s daily care, their capacity to nurture the child, and the emotional support they have provided that child over time.

This evaluation is integral to determining how custody arrangements should be structured to promote the child’s best interests. Additionally, the parent’s history of caretaking is examined to gauge their capability and commitment to meet the child’s needs.

Together, these factors guide courts in making decisions that prioritize the child’s continuity of care and emotional well-being. The idea is for the child to live in a supportive and stable environment that will support their development as they grow.

The Proximity Between the Parents’ Homes

In addition to assessing the child’s bond with each parent and the parent’s history of caretaking, courts also weigh the proximity between the parents’ residences and the child’s ties to each geographical area or location. This evaluation encompasses considerations such as the location of the child’s school, participation in extracurricular activities, and connections to extended family and community.

Courts strive to establish custody arrangements that provide a nurturing environment. The distance between parents can impact the child’s daily routine, stability, and ability to maintain important relationships. Courts will thus prioritize education, social interactions, and familial bonds when deciding to award a father 50-50 custody.

The Parents’ Work Schedules

Likewise, courts consider both parents’ work schedules when deciding whether to award custody between parents equally. Specifically, courts assess the ability of each parent to maintain a consistent and stable presence in the child’s life based on their work commitments.

In its assessment, a court will examine factors such as flexibility, availability during evenings and weekends, and the potential for sharing responsibilities during weekdays. These details are scrutinized to ensure that both parents can actively participate in their child’s upbringing.

Courts aim to establish arrangements that accommodate the practicalities of parental employment while emphasizing the child’s need for regular and meaningful interaction with both parents. This approach reflects judges’ broader understanding of the importance of balancing work obligations with parenting responsibilities to build healthy family relationships after divorce.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse

The mental health of each parent and any issues they have with substance abuse will be critical considerations in custody determinations. Therefore, courts carefully evaluate the psychological well-being of both parents to determine if they can provide a stable and nurturing environment for their children.

Courts will also factor in any history of substance abuse. When credible evidence of continued substance abuse exists, courts typically lean toward awarding sole custody to the non-substance-abusing parent to protect the child’s safety and well-being. This presumption aims to keep children safe from the potential harm associated with substance abuse and promote an environment supportive of their development.

Because the overarching goal is 50/50 custody, courts may require the parent with substance abuse issues to complete a rehabilitation program. Parents will need to demonstrate sustained sobriety before a court will consider a shared custody arrangement.

The Parents’ Ability to Co-Parent

The ability of parents to effectively co-parent is yet another factor in fathers seeking a 50-50 custody arrangement. Courts closely examine the level of communication, cooperation, and mutual respect demonstrated by both parents toward each other and their commitment to fostering a positive co-parenting relationship.

A father’s readiness and willingness to collaborate with their child’s other parent in making important decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities, will be considered. Judges prioritize efforts that promote shared decision-making and minimize conflict. Fathers who actively engage in constructive co-parenting and demonstrate a dedication to putting their child’s interests first are more likely to achieve a 50-50 custody award.

Find a Mansfield family lawyer experienced in helping fathers get shared custody.

The above factors are not an exhaustive list, but give you an idea of some of the important considerations when a court is determining custody. The emphasis on shared custody for fathers is a testament to changing attitudes toward co-parenting. Because fathers today are more actively involved in their children’s upbringing, challenging outdated stereotypes and demonstrating their commitment to being a stable presence, courts are no longer willing to favor mothers in custody decisions simply because they are “the mother.”

This cultural shift should empower fathers to pursue 50/50 custody arrangements to forge stronger family bonds with their children and promote their healthy development. If you are a father who is interested in seeking 50/50 custody of your children in your divorce, our team of Mansfield custody attorneys has extensive experience to support you. Call our South Easton office today to schedule an assessment.

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