Dear Hindell,

My spouse is more involved in the parenting process. I’m worried I won’t get to see my kids as much as I want to if we get a divorce. How will the court determined custody of our children?

Busy in Brookline

If there is a custody battle, judges use the standard of “best interest of the child” when determining the custodial parent.  There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical custody.  Unless there are extreme circumstances both parents typically share legal custody.  Primary physical custody suggests the location where the children primarily reside, which often informs the choice of school systems.  The terms primary physical custody and visitation are less often used and more recently have been replaced by the expression “Parenting Plan” which outlines the times each parent spends with the children.

Sometimes one side or the other will request that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the judge to determine which parent is better suited as the custodial parent.  The GAL interviews the parents and other collaterals, such as doctors and teachers, writes a report, and makes a recommendation to the judge.  As the judge will not meet or interview the children, the GAL is effectively acting as the judge’s eyes and ears by conveying observations and facts in the report, so the judge can make the final custody decision.

Hindell S. Grossman, Esq.
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
(617) 969-0069


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