A closer look at sole legal child custody in Massachusetts

According to the General Laws of Massachusetts, a parent who is granted sole legal custody of a child may exercise a great deal of decision-making power regarding that child’s upbringing. Pursuant to Section 31 of Title III on Domestic Relations, a parent with sole legal custody can choose how and where a child is educated, where and with what techniques a child receives medical evaluation and treatment and if or how a child will have any exposure to religious practices or teachings.

These topics encompass some of the biggest considerations that parents must make with regard to raising his or her children. When one parent is removed from having a voice over such matters, he or she can feel isolated and unable to work for the children’s best interests. A parent with sole legal custody can generally initiate his or her preferences for the children’s experiences without bending to the preferences of the other parent.

With regard to education, a parent with sole legal custody can decide the type of institution that the child or children will attend. This decision can directly relate to another one of the categories over which sole legal custodians retain control: the presence or absence of religious teachings in the life of the child. Secular or religious schools may follow different educational foundations and can vary depending upon the institutions.

The religious beliefs of the legal custodian can also factor into how a child receives medical care. While some religious backgrounds do not have policies with regard to certain treatments, others disavow medical intervention in certain situations. Outside of religious implications, a parent with legal authority over a child can unilaterally choose which courses of treatment to utilize when a child is diagnosed with a medical condition.

A parent with sole custody over the legal decision-making of a child’s upbringing holds a great deal of power. In some situations there are good reasons for why courts feel that one parent should hold such rights over the other. However, parents who feel that the legal custody of their children should be shared can seek to split such decision-making power between them. If doing so would serve the best interests of the children, then courts can permit parents to share legal child custody. Divorced parents dealing with issues regarding the custody of their children should understand their options so they can take the appropriate steps to resolve these divorce legal problems.

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