The Law Office of Merril S. Chin represents mothers and fathers in a wide range of child custody-related cases. We represent parents who are obtaining an initial custody arrangement during a divorce, parents who wish to modify an existing child custody arrangement and parents with other child-custody related needs.
Child custody is often the most important and most sensitive issue for divorcing families with minor children. Custodial plans also referred to as parenting plans, are often the most litigated areas in family law. The Court decides custody disputes based on the best interests of the child, rather than on the interests of either parent.
Factors considered when deciding a child’s best interests include:
• The age of the child
• The child’s wishes (once he or she is older)
• The quality and the quantity of time spent with the child
• Parents’ locations and parents’ relocation plans
• Which parent has served as the child’s primary caregiver
• The location of the child’s school
• The parents’ schedules
Some cases in which the parents cannot agree where the children should live and/or what the parenting plan will require a guardian ad litem.
A guardian ad litem is either an attorney or a mental health professional who acts as a neutral investigator and/or evaluator. They will speak to the children, the parents, and anyone who has information about the parents or the children, such as relatives, friends, neighbors, school personnel, and medical providers. The guardian ad litem‘s role is to present an objective recommendation to the Court concerning the relevant custodial issues, such as:
• Where the children should live
• How much time they should spend with the other parent
• Whether there is a need for supervision during parenting time
Sometimes a guardian ad litem doesn’t make a recommendation that is consistent with your position. We have decades of experience handling these types of cases and taking them to trial when necessary. We advocate aggressively, but always realistically and compassionately, for our clients, and we have been successful in achieving our male and female clients’ custody goals.
Sometimes an initial custody arrangement/parenting plan needs to be changed. Possibly the child/children are not being well cared for under the current arrangement or sometimes, as a child gets older, he or she may need to spend more time with one parent. While children certainly have a voice in custodial arrangements as they grow older, they do not make their own decisions until they are eighteen years old. The Law Office of Merril S. Chin has the resources and experience you need to effectively advise you and represent such situations.
Sometimes one parent wishes to move with a child/children outside of Massachusetts or to a different part of Massachusetts which would significantly disrupt the current parenting plan. This is referred to as removal or relocation. While a parent is certainly permitted to move where he or she desires, the law is clear that the child/children cannot move unless the Court or the other parent gives permission. This is regardless of custodial (physical or legal) designations and applies to children born of a marriage or outside of a marriage (paternity). Since moving a child away from one parent will certainly impact the parent-child relationship, such cases are often the most difficult of family law issues. If the parties do not agree that one parent should be permitted to move out of state, or to another part of the state, with the child/children, the Court will apply the appropriate legal standard, which depends upon the custodial/parenting plan, to decide whether removal/relocation should be permitted.
The Law Office of Merril S. Chin has negotiated and litigated many removal/relocation cases. As these cases are very fact-driven, a consultation is necessary to evaluate the specifics of your situation and the likelihood of success.