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Child Custody & Visitation Archives

What Are the Differences Between an ARC Attorney, Guardian ad Litem and Parenting Coordinator?

In high conflict custody cases in Massachusetts, there are many experts that can become involved in your case to help with the conflict and pending issues. The most common experts are Guardians ad Litem, Parenting Coordinators, and ARC Attorneys. However, many parents often confuse these roles. This article will explain what each role is and the difference between these types of experts.

 

 

Guardian ad Litem

A Guardian ad Litem (also known as a GAL) is one of the most common experts in a high conflict custody case. A GAL is typically appointed by the court to investigate the pending issues in the case. A Guardian ad Litem is either a mental health professional that works with divorced or separated families, or a Family Law attorney.

 

Oftentimes, the GAL is asked to investigate the facts of the case and then make recommendations for legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time. A GAL is oftentimes also charged with investigating other issues that arise such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse. Ultimately, the GAL … Read More »



The Legal Status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts- An Update

Parenting coordinator Massachusetts

In 2014 we blogged about the legal status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts. The article was written just after the Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower. However, since that decision came down in September 2014, a lot has changed.

 

For those who do not know what a Parenting Coordinator is, a Parenting Coordinator is a trained attorney or mental health professional who has a background in child custody and parenting time disputes assist parents to resolve and reach agreement concerning disagreements about co-parenting, custody, and the parenting schedule.

 

Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts to facilitate resolving disputes between parents on issues relating children of divorce and children born out of wedlock. The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute. Using Parent Coordinators can be an effective tool in assisting parents in avoiding lengthy litigation in the Probate and Family Court to resolve custody and parenting … Read More »



Creating New Holiday Traditions for Children After a Divorce

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Divorce is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. Once parents decide to divorce, the children then have to face the reality of their parents no longer living under the same roof. This is a difficult transition for almost all children, but it can be especially difficult at the holidays. Parents should stress to their children that it is okay to enjoy the holidays during this difficult time—at both parent’s homes.

 

But to help children transition to this new structure of the family, parents should consider developing new traditions that the family as a whole did not do before. This can be something very small, such as selecting a Christmas tree from a specific place, or baking holiday cookies with your children, or something bigger, such as a nice vacation.

 

On the same hand, though, parents should also try to maintain some consistency. If there … Read More »



Types of Child Custody in Massachusetts

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Legal custody is the “decision making” custody. The parent or parents who have legal custody of a child have the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing, such as … Read More »



The Benefits of Engaging a Parenting Coordinator

The Benefits of Engaging a Parenting CoordinatorA Parent Coordinator is a Family Law Attorney or mental health professional who works with families relating to child custody and parenting time, whereby the Parent Coordinator assists parents to resolve and reach agreement concerning disagreements about co-parenting, custody, and the parenting schedule. Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts as a way to resolve disputes without going to court. The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute.

 

Some parents look at Parent Coordinators as someone who is a referee and quasi-judge who decides which parent “wins” or “loses” specific disputes regarding co-parenting. Rather, a parenting coordinator is more like a mediator, who helps both parents work through a dispute and come to a relatively amicable resolution without the need for going back to court. This reduces the time needed to resolve the dispute (since it can be done privately and out of court), and can help preserve the … Read More »



How to Effectively Co-Parent At the Beginning of a Divorce

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Unhappy family and child custody battle concept sketched on sticky note paper

When parents divorce, there can be a significant impact on the children. For divorces involving children, some judges have referred to such a divorce as a corporate reshuffling, and say that the family corporation remains the same, but has undergone some reshuffling. That is to say, the family unit continues to exist, but in a slightly different format. From the moment parents decide to divorce, they have to realize that although they may no longer be a couple, they will always be co-parents. For this reason, parents have to continue to co-parent their children, regardless of the divorce. To effectively co-parent, parents should follow these tips below:

 

Show a United Front to the Children. From the time you tell your children that you are divorcing, all through the divorce, parents should be a united front for their children. They should agree when and how to tell the children that they are divorcing, and continue to communicate … Read More »



How to Help Your Child Emotionally Through a Divorce or Child Custody Matter

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Handling a Child Custody Case

Handling a Child Custody CaseThere are not many other types of court cases that are more emotional and stressful than a child custody case. Because emotions are running high during these types of cases, parents can sometimes fall into pitfalls and traps, which can ultimately hurt their case down the road. Here are some tips for parents going through child custody cases.

Talk to Your Children. Parents should NEVER actively involve children in any pending child custody litigation. These are more “adult” conversations for the parents, their attorneys and the court. However, if a child has questions or concerns about what the child custody case, parents should try to answer the child’s questions and address the child’s concerns. These conversations should be age appropriate conversations, and should not, in any, disparage the other parent. A child shouldn’t feel that they have to take sides through this process. Even though the children aren’t actively involved in the litigation, they will still know what is going on, and most likely will be stress because of it. Try to Co-Parent with the Other Parent: Even during a custody case, parents … Read More »



Co-Parenting and Visitation During the Holidays After a Divorce

Co-Parenting and Visitation During the Holidays After a DivorceHolidays can be an exciting time for families. They can include family gatherings, big meals, and other fun events. But they can also be a stressful time for parents and children when negotiating a visitation schedule or co-parenting plan resulting from a divorce. This can mean maintaining different schedules and children splitting their time between their mother’s family and their father’s family. This can lead to stress and aggravation for not only the parents, but for the children as well.

There are, however, ways to prevent this. When negotiating a parenting plan or visitation scheduling in the midst of a divorce, parents should consider not just the regular weekly visitation schedule or parenting plan, but holidays as well. When drafting a visitation schedule or parenting plan, the parents should consider what traditions, events, and functions, both the mother’s family and the father’s family have, and try to develop a visitation schedule or parenting plan that accommodates all of these factors, and allows the children to … Read More »



What is a Guardian ad Litem? Do I Need a GAL for My Custody Case?

Custody

In high conflict child custody cases in Massachusetts, it is not uncommon for the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (also known as a GAL). However, many parents do not know what a GAL is, and what a GAL is supposed to do in a child custody case until the GAL is appointed. If you are a parent in a high conflict child custody case, it is important to know who a GAL is and what he/she does before the case even starts.

 

Q: What is a GAL?

A: A GAL is a person (usually a Family Law Attorney or mental health professional who works with families) appointed by the court to investigate the issue of child custody and/or parenting time for a family in the midst of a child custody case.

 

Q: What does the GAL do?

A: The GAL is required to conduct an investigation whereby he/she speaks with the parents, child(ren), and anyone else necessary and relevant to the case (e.g. school teachers, doctors, family friends, family members, family therapists, etc.) The GAL will also review any relevant documents for the … Read More »



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