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Massachusetts Child Custody Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

The Bay State is a great place to fall in love. Unfortunately, not all love stories have the happiest endings. And when these endings involve our kids, we have to figure out who will get custody and which laws will apply to our case. Here is a brief overview of child custody laws in Massachusetts.

Child Custody Laws

State child custody laws are fairly similar from one state to the next, and most states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (including Massachusetts). Massachusetts child custody laws recognize the option of joint custody; allow for visitation by grandparents; and consider the child's own wishes before ordering custody terms.

Child Custody Statutes in Massachusetts

Learn more about Massachusetts' child custody laws in the chart below.

Code Section

208§28, 209C §10

Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, 208§31; 209C§10

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, Ch. 119 §39D

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Massachusetts Custody Hearings

If you and your ex cannot agree on a custody arrangement, you may have to attend a custody hearing in court. If a judge has to determine custody issues, he or she will create an arrangement based on your child’s best interests. Massachusetts family courts may to consider any factors that are relevant to your child’s best interests, and generally give more consideration to the factors that will affect your child’s safety and wellbeing. Some of these factors will focus on your child, like his or her preference (if he or she is old enough), his or her relationship with any siblings, and the need for consistency and continuity in his or her education, community, and family life. Other factors may focus on you and your ex, like:

  • Which of you is more likely to take care of the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of your child;
  • Which of you is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with your child; and
  • Which of you is more likely to encourage and allow frequent contact between your child and the other parent.

A judge can also consider certain criminal charges and convictions, any past or present physical abuse, and whether either parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Massachusetts Family Laws Related Resources:

Child custody matters can be difficult to sort out, and you may find it helpful to talk to attorney. You can contact a Massachusetts family law attorney near you to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw's Child Custody section for more introductory information on this topic.

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