One unfortunate assumption about the divorce process is that judges are predisposed to favoring mothers over fathers.
When it comes to determining both legal and physical custody of children in Massachusetts (for more on the difference between the two, click here), judges are bound by the standard of the “best interests of the children.” In simpler terms, the analysis begins with the children, and not the parents. Of course, this is not to say that the parents’ history and ability to provide a stable and healthy environment for the children is not considered.
Many states have considered creating default parenting plans where children spend equal time with each parent. In families where each parent has the availability for such a parenting schedule, and where such a schedule would be beneficial for the children, this can provide an immense benefit to the children.
However, one size does not fit all, and not all parents can commit to that type of time with the children, and the existence of other factors might lead to the conclusion that the best interests of the children would mean spending more time with one parent than the other. Hence, the “best interests of the child” standard. Judges are charged with looking at each individual family and deciding what is in the best interests of a child that the judge is never going to meet. This can be an extraordinarily difficult task to accomplish, but if one parent historically has not been as involved in child-rearing as the other, there should not be much of an expectation of that changing during and after a divorce.
If you are concerned that your parenting time might be limited by a judge, it would be wise to speak with an attorney earlier rather than later. Parenting routines that have been in place can sometimes be difficult to change later on.