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Massachusetts Child Custody Laws

Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. State child custody laws are fairly similar from one state to the next, but Massachusetts is the only state to still have not adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Massachusetts child custody laws recognize the options of sole legal, shared legal, shared legal, sole physical, and shared physical custody.

This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Massachusetts.

Child Custody Statutes in Massachusetts

Learn more about Massachusetts' child custody laws in the chart below. You can also visit FindLaw's Child Custody section for more introductory information on this topic.

Code Section

208 § 28 et seq. of the Massachusetts General Laws

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, 208 § 31 (temporary shared custody is the presumption)

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, Ch. 119 § 39D

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Custody Hearings

If you and your child's other parent cannot agree on a custody arrangement, you may have to attend a custody hearing in court. If a judge has to determine custody issues, they will create an arrangement based on your child's best interests. Massachusetts family courts may 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 well-being.

Get Legal Help with Child Custody

If you and your child's other parent are separating, you might not agree on who gets custody of your child or what the custody arrangement should look like. There are many other factors to consider in these determinations, but the court's primary concern will be the child's own best interests. Child custody matters can be difficult to sort out, and you may find it helpful to talk to an attorney.

You can contact a Massachusetts family law attorney near you to discuss your case.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Custody & child visitation cases are emotional, and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Lawyers can seek to secure visitation rights

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