Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys
Fitchburg Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys Who Will Fight For You
At our initial consultations, we ask our prospective clients to establish and prioritize the goals they want to achieve, and consistently people are concerned how to protect their children and provide for the children’s best interests. There may be disputes about how decisions are made, where children should live, when children should be with each parent etc., but the parents understand that the everyone involved has a responsibility to minimize the harm to the children that family litigation all-too-often brings.
At that point, the attorney and client design the structure of the case to establish a plan for how to achieve the client’s goals. Central to the philosophy of the firm is to work with the client to achieve the client’s goals, working as a team. It’s important that the client understand the process; reducing confusion helps reduce anxiety and stress. To that end, from time to time, the process and law are explained so the client is able to make informed decisions.
Child Custody, Joint Custody, Visitation Lawyers
For over 25 years, our firm has been a vigilant advocate for our client’s rights and for the children’s best interests. We bring to every case our compassion, knowledge, creativity, tenacity and experience to get the best results possible for our clients.
We often represent clients with legal matters involving child custody, joint custody, visitation etc. In these cases, our attorneys are always available to our clients by email, phone and in person to discuss their situation. It is important that we work closely with the client when making decisions or taking actions so that we may provide the proper guidance or counseling beforehand, rather than having to “clean up” or change things afterwards.
We always keep the children’s best interests in mind.
One of this firm’s strong points is the ability to see a case concerning children from all angles. The firm doesn’t hesitate to represent a parent who feels that the children are best off living with them for the majority of the time. When we believe that our client is the better parent, we fight hard and well for the client to achieve the best results possible. In other words, we don’t represent someone in a “custody case” just because the client pays; we believe in our clients or we don’t take the case. Children are too important to do otherwise.
Legal Custody and Physical Custody
In Massachusetts there are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the parent’s ability to consult with the children’s doctors, teachers, counselors and others and have access to their children’s records. Legal custody also refers to the parent’s ability to make important decisions with respect to the children such as what doctors the children will see or medical procedures the children will undergo; what schools or camps the children will attend, and what religious services, if any, the children will attend.
Most parents in Massachusetts have shared legal custody. There are situations when shared legal custody is not appropriate. At Riddle & Associates we will advise you based on our extensive experience in child custody cases whether we believe the Court will award you shared legal custody or legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the parent that is the primary caretaker of the children and will have the children residing with them the majority of the time. Often one party has sole physical custody, and the other party has visitation rights. A standard visitation schedule for a non custodial parent that the Probate and Family Court has utilized for years is every other weekend and a dinner visit one night every week.
Shared Physical Custody and Equal Time with the Children
For many parties becoming a non custodial parent or simply having limited visitation rights with their children is unbearable. The Probate and Family Court does have the ability to award shared physical custody to the parties or at the very least a more expansive visitation schedule than every other weekend and a dinner visit each week. Shared custody involves the parties having something close to equal time with the children.
Many parents who are not the primary custodial parent object to being called “secondary” because that is how their ex-spouses treat them, as secondary in importance. History and research have found that parents pay child support more willingly when they feel that their parental rights are intact and they are able to participate in their children’s lives instead of being pigeon-holed into spots of time and authority.
In cases of shared physical custody the court establishes a parenting plan that sets out the way that the parents will be sharing their parental responsibility. If a specific case is not suited for shared parental responsibility, the option for sole physical custody is still in place in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Parenting Plans and Visitation Plans
The parenting plan details how decisions are to be made so that they parents may designate ultimate decision-making authority to one parent for some decisions and others to the other parent. All aspects of parenting are set out in the plan that is ultimately part of the final judgment. Of course, if it is created by the parents themselves through cooperation, mediation, or a negotiated agreement, it is better for the parents and children than having a judge impose a standard plan that is not tailored to the individual needs and preferences of all.
The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are the method by which child support is calculated in Massachusetts when one party has physical custody. If the parties reach an agreement for shared physical custody or the Court awards shared physical custody in a judgment, then the child support guidelines do not apply. If the parties have shared physical custody the Court can use wide discretion in setting a child support amount, or make no child support order at all.
Do you have a child custody or visitation legal matter?
If you have a child custody or visitation matter in Worcester County, including Worcester, Leominster, and Fitchburg or the surrounding areas, please call our office and speak with a qualified child custody attorney right away.
Our law firm serves the Fitchburg and Leominster region including the areas of Lunenburg, Worcester, Gardner, Clinton, Bolton, Lancaster, Berlin, Acton, Concord, Greenfield, West Boylston, Marlborough, Northborough, Westborough, Groton, Shirley, Pepperell, Townsend, Ashby, Winchendon, Ashburnham, Templeton, Princeton, Ayer, Harvard, Worcester County, Middlesex County, Franklin County and surrounding communities in Massachusetts.