Custody and Paternity

A father who seeks to obtain custody or visitation with his minor child or children must establish paternity. To establish paternity, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can be executed by the parents or a paternity complaint can be filed with the probate and family court or district court. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209C, Section 2. However, only the probate and family court can make an order on custody and a parenting plan. If paternity has been established, a complaint for custody, support and visitation can be filed by either party.

If a child is born while the mother of the child is married to another individual or within 300 days of the mother’s divorce, the father cannot file a paternity action under G.L. Chapter 209C. A complaint in equity would need to be filed. If an action for custody or visitation relates to a child over 14, the child must be joined as a party under 209C. Nevertheless, even when paternity has been determined by the court, the mother retains sole custody of the child unless the court orders otherwise.

In an action under G.L. Chapter 209C, a court must first preserve the relationship between the primary care parent and the child. The court shall consider where the child has lived for six months prior to the filing of the complaint. Also, the court must consider the parental relationship of each parent with the child. If a child has resided with one parent and the child’s needs are adequately met by that parent who can continue to provide care, it is not in the child’s best interest to change that custody arrangement. Custody of Kali, 439 Mass. 834 (2003). Further, if there is a domestic abuse issue, there is a presumption against any award of custody to that abusive parent. In some circumstances, joint custody can be awarded if the parties have successfully exercised joint responsibility for the child and are able to communicate with each other prior to filing a custody action.

Once a custody or visitation order has been entered, the court can modify the order upon determining that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and the modification is in the child’s best interests. Examples of substantial change in circumstance include one parent moving out of state, parenting time with the child is harmful to the child, or the custodial parent is unfit. An unfit custodial parent can be an individual who has substance abuse issues, a criminal history or has a history of child or partner abuse.


Is There a Difference Between Divorce and Family Law Cases?
What most people think of as a family law case is a divorce case. Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is a legal proceeding to terminate the marriage. The case is filed with the Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts in the county where one party resides. However, if one of the parties still resides in the county where the parties last lived together, the case must be filed in that county. If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, you must reside in Massachusetts for one year prior to filing. If the grounds occurred in Massachusetts, you or your spouse must reside in Massachusetts and there is no time requirement.
Am I Entitled to Social Security Disability?
Social Security Title II Disability provides disabled workers with monthly benefits and Medicare coverage after receiving SSDI benefits for 24 months. In order to be found disabled, you must be unable to work due to your disability which has lasted or can be expected to last for twelve continuous months. Generally, in order to be found disabled, you must have worked 5 out of the 10 years prior to the date you became disabled. Social Security breaks a year down into four quarters. In 2013, you have worked a full quarter credit if you earned $1,160 of income. If you have earned $4,640, you have earned four credits for the year even if all of your earnings were earned in one month.
Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Estate Planning is the very important process everyone should go through in order to be prepared for one's inevitable, and sometimes unexpected, death. Most of us are fortunate enough to have families that we would like to take care of and friends that we would like to remember with a gift upon our passing. What you own and what your familial obligations are will help determine what kind of estate plan you should have. An estate plan is a gift to your family. Between probate and taxes, your family may spend lots of time and money that could have been saved by an effective estate plan. Your survivors will have a much easier time both emotionally and financially if there is an estate plan in place before your demise.

Client Reviews

I engaged Attorney Fiore for my divorce. My ex-spouse hired a big (in name only) Boston law firm that thought they could pressure us with various discovery requests, non-standard positions and they were also unresponsive for over 20 months. Attorney Fiore appropriately advised me through this...

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Susan is an amazing lawyer! I can honestly say I am very lucky and blessed to have her as my lawyer! I have been going through a lot with my son's father in court. Susan is very knowledgeable about law practices and very honest about how something may…

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There are a lot of testimonials here about how difficult peoples divorce was and how Attorney Fiore assisted them through that difficult time in their life. I have no doubt they are true. In my case I was fortunate to have Attorney Fiore help me…

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If I had a ballot for Massachusetts Attorney of the Year, Attorney Susan Fiore would get my vote! I retained Attorney Fiore to help me navigate the legal system and explore an uncontested resolution to a divorce/child support modification…

Client, Gregg

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