How can Other custody proposals Threaten A Child's Happiness and Welfare?

The proposal to have a presumption of joint custody is not the only kind of proposal that threatens children’s happiness and welfare.

In the recent past bills have been filed in the Massachusetts Legislature to make custody decisions more about parents’ rights than about parents’ responsibility to focus on the happiness and welfare of their child.

For example, there have been proposals that would:

  • Encourage abusive parents to have the court punish decent parents for not cooperating with them, even when there are serious reasons not to, like domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse.
  •  Encourage abusive parents to have the court take away parenting time by claiming interference with their own parenting time unless there is proof of acting reasonably to protect the child.
  •  Encourage abusive parents to try to limit parenting time with claims of trying to involve the children in the case by manipulating or pressuring them.
  •  Require filing file a detailed parenting plan every time you go to court.
  • Encourage abusive parents file a contempt case if they want to claim non-compliance with a parenting plan.
  •  Order children to live specific fractions of time with each parent even though that is mathematically rigid, physically impossible, and unrelated to how real parents and children actually spend time together.
  • Overvalue one parent’s fostering a positive relationship between the child and the other parent at the expense of fostering a realistic relationship that emphasizes their happiness and welfare.

Proposals like these have not become law in Massachusetts.

Prepared for the Custody Awareness Collaborative by Attorney Jeff Wolf of MassLegalHelp and Community Legal Services and Counseling Center.  February, 2017.