Massachusetts is one of seventeen states contemplating taking the plunge into a legal presumption in favor of what those states often call joint custody (sometimes shared custody).
But in many cases, what these states really mean is equal timesharing.
Most do have exceptions where one parent is unfit or abusive.
But in the main, this is largely a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to custody and visitation.
Some of the pros of this approach is that it will likely streamline most child custody dispute cases and thereby save parents time and money and save the taxpayers money as well by lightening the load in the courts. For many families, it may well give children more access to both of their parents and improve their relationship with at least one of their parents.
Some of the cons of this approach include:
- giving equal timesharing to a parent who is poorly equipped to have it, although not necessarily abusive or unfit
- giving equal timesharing to a parent who really doesn’t want it and may not consistently exercise it
- giving equal timesharing to a parent who is unfit and/or abusive, although the other parent doesn’t know how to or can’t afford to prove that by the applicable legal standard
- giving rise to more appeals of custody dispute cases.
Read more in
- this Daily News of Newburyport [MA] article: Child custody bill deserves consideration and
- this North Andover Eagle-Tribune [MA] article: Advocates push for shared parenting in divorce cases .