Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Modification sought to modernize Massachusetts child custody laws

Massachusetts lawmakers are challenged to support a proposed bill that some believe would make an enormous difference in the way divorces will affect the dynamics of modern families. While no modifications can eliminate the emotional trauma of a divorce that involves children, the proposers of the modified child custody bill believe the changes will have a positive impact on post-divorce parent-child relationships. It is based on the fact that the majority of modern parents share income responsibilities and should, therefore, share child custody responsibilities and privileges.

Traditional families typically involved a working father and a stay-at-home mother; however, most modern families cannot usually make it by on only one spouse's income. When families are in a position in which one income is sufficient, it is often the father who stays at home to provide child care. Family dynamics has changed so much that many feel the manner in which mothers were previously regarded as the primary caregivers needs modification.

The bill proposes that the language of the child custody law is modified to use the term shared parenting rather than visitation. The intent is for judges to promote the sharing of child-rearing responsibilities and eliminate the challenging natures of many custody battles. Proponents believe that this will provide the opportunity for parents to maintain loving relationships with their kids and limit the disruption of the lives of children.

Whether this attempt to update child custody laws will be successful or not will have to be seen. In the meantime, a divorcing parent in Massachusetts may benefit from consulting with an experienced child custody attorney who can explain his or her rights under current laws. Furthermore, parents who choose to utilize the services of a divorce mediator to resolve issues are entitled to be represented by their respective attorneys. A lawyer can provide valuable input in negotiations and ensure the legality of any agreements.

Source: lowellsun.com, "Bring child-custody laws into 21st century", Sept. 10, 2015

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